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Shakespeare’s Words version 3.0


Pronouncing Shakespeare



Archive events and links

June 2022
Report from Natalia Farhi, Berlin 
In classical vocal works you inevitably come across 'broken' rhymes, Händel oratorios are full of them. Since classical musicians have been going to such lengths in the name of historical performance practice in every aspect -  instruments, strings, tuning, phrasing, tone, vibrato - wouldn't it only seem consistent to raise the question of historical pronunciation?
Being in charge of vocal diction at the singing department of the Hanns Eisler School of Music in Berlin, I wanted to at least give it a try and am very grateful for the OP-introduction David generously gave me in a few Skype-sessions a couple of years ago. His books are my close companions and do great service in any case of doubt. 
I have since included a chapter on OP in my course on English vocal diction, seeking to educate my singing and conducting students to be sensitive about the considerable changes in pronunciation through the centuries and encouraging them to give OP a try and see what it does to a piece. As a consequence some students have already been experimenting with OP and we have tried to find a good solution for how to treat OP-vowels in singing. I believe that knowledge and competence are the basis of any serious artistic decision and am immensely grateful to David for broadening my horizons!

March 2022
Stay, Time: Lute Songs of John Dowland
Friday, 11 March, 7:30 pm, Brattleboro Music Center
Saturday, 12 March, 7.30 pm, Good Shepherd Watertown
Agnes Coakley Cox, Sophie Michaux, Corey Dalton Hart, Adam Simon, voices; Nathaniel Cox, lute
From the ensemble's announcement: 'Stay, time, awhile thy flying,' writes John Dowland in one of the most beautiful songs of his collection A Pilgrimes Solace. It’s a wish we can all relate to - as children grow, parents age, or milestones slip by - if only we could pause time in its relentless flight! In our spring concert, we share the closest thing we’ve found to a pause button on life: the intimacy of four-part singing around a table. We reconvene the ensemble from our 2019 program “Come again,” this time for a journey through the work of Dowland from his Firste Booke of Songes (1597) to A Pilgrimes Solace (1612). Deepening our work as an ensemble on historical pronunciation and facsimile reading, we explore themes of timelessness, aging, darkness, and light in Dowland’s beloved and evergreen songs.

December 2021
Original script of Paul Meier's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream edited by Ahmed Fasih to match the radio version, available on Paul's website: The link to the script:

November 2021
Come again: Lute Songs of John Dowland and his Contemporaries
Friday, 15 November 15, 7:30 pm, Brattleboro Music Center
Saturday, 16 November, 7:30 pm, Friends Meeting at Cambridge
Agnes Coakley Cox, Sophie Michaux, Corey Dalton Hart, Adam Simon, voices; Nathaniel Cox, lute
From the ensemble's announcement: 'Come Again: Lute Songs of John Dowland and His Contemporaries'. Beloved and lesser-known lute songs by Dowland and his contemporaries take on a new dimension in the first concert of our season, performed in historical pronunciation using facsimile table book editions of the music. In Stile Moderno appears for the first time as a four-voice ensemble with lute, bringing to life the poetry of Elizabethan England with the original pronunciation of the time. Otherwise unheard rhymes and puns jump to the ear and a refreshingly direct and earthy timbre colors the language, while Dowland’s virtuosic contrapuntal writing is showcased by the lute and four-voice texture.

July 2021
Audiobook narration in OP by Ben Crystal of George Silver's 1599 work Paradoxes of Defence, one of the earliest works on swordsmanship published in English

23 February 2021
To mark the 200th anniversary of the death of the poet John Keats on 23 February 1821, Dr Ranjan Sen, University of Sheffield, was brought in by the Institute for Digital Archaeology (who were in turn commissioned by the Keats-Shelley Memorial Association) to reconstruct the voice of the poet in his likely London accent reading his final poem ‘Bright Star’. The original-pronunciation (OP) reading was then recorded by Broadway star Marc Kudisch, and put in the mouth of a painstakingly reconstructed 3D CGI Keats, based upon existing life and death masks, sitting in the house where he died at the base of the Spanish Steps in Rome in his likely attire. The CGI reading was the culmination of an online event to commemorate the bicentennial of Keats’s death, ‘Bringing poetry (back) to life’  at which Ranjan Sen presented his method for ascertaining how Keats may have spoken (Ranjan's contribution is from minute 12 to 22, and the CGI Keats reading around 1:04). The event also involved poetry readings by the BBC’s John Simpson, poet laureate Simon Armitage, poet Scarlett Sabet, Lord Charles Spencer, and Del Amitri’s Iain Harvie. The poet’s pronunciation was the main element of this project, as highlighted by the many reports in the media of the project, including a very positive article in the New Yorker by Anna Russell, which foregrounded Ranjan's OP work. Furthermore, Ranjan’s own OP recording of the first lines of Keats’s Endymion was used in the Euronews report on the project on the day of the bicentenary.

10 February 2021
A dramatic reading of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in OP at the University of Salzburg, Austria, 5pm.
After studying Old English, Middle English and Early Modern English, the BA-class ‘English Through the Ages: Spotlight on Systems and Usage’ (convened by Jana Pflaeging) concluded with a 60-minute dramatic reading of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She writes: 'A video-conferencing platform served as a somewhat unusual stage. Despite the pandemic-induced challenges, getting the chance to apply our knowledge and make a 400-year old play come to life has been a great motivation to students and lecturer alike.' She shares two student reactions: I was really excited and I enjoyed myself very much. When I prepared myself I felt like a first grader in elementary school by doing 20 minutes of reading practice almost every day. Actually I thought that I would be extremely nervous during the dramatic reading, but then it was so much fun that I forgot about being nervous. (Renate, BA student); Thank you so much for teaching us this unusual skill, I loved every second of it. (Irina, BA student) She adds: 'The transcripts, recordings and publications provided by David Crystal and Paul Maier proved invaluable to realising our project. Thank you so much for these open-access materials – and your enthusiasm for OP.'

30 October – 20 November 2020
Baltimore Shakespeare Factory presents King Lear in original pronunciation, directed by Tom Delise and performed at the Kestrel Playhouse in the St. Mary’s Community Center, 3900 Roland Ave, Baltimore, MD 21211. 

July 2020
The 2010 radio drama version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Kansas University,dorected by Paul Meier, is now freely available as streaming audio on Paul’s website. See and then the sub link,

9 April 2020
Publication of Sonia Massai’s Shakespeare’s Accents: Voicing Identity in Performance (CUP), which contains in Chapter 2 an illuminating discussion of OP and its recent theatrical history, placed in the context of regional and social accents generally. A must-read for anyone interested in OP.

18 December 2019
Robert Southwell’s Christmas poetry recited in original pronunciation in a project entitled ‘The Divine Infant’s Timeline’, with accompanying pantomime and originally composed music. Staged by English Philology Department Students’ Club at University of Applied Sciences in Tarnów, Poland, directed by Dr Grzegorz Nawrocki. First performance held on Wednesday, December 18 at 11.30 a.m. Venue: University aula, Mickiewicza Street 8, Tarnów, Building C, room 017.

1–2 June 2019
Extracts from King Lear in OP set to music by Adrienne Inglis, in a piece called ‘The Rage and Reconciliation of King Lear’. It was performed as part of a concert by Inversion Ensemble: ‘Heroes and Monsters: songs of legends and beasts’, Saturday June 1 at 7 pm in Westminster Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall, 3208 Exposition Blvd. Austin, Texas 78703, and Sunday June 2 at 3 pm in Redeemer Presbyterian Church, 2111 Alexander Ave. Austin, Texas 78722.

12 April – 5 May 2019
Baltimore Shakespeare Factory production of Hamlet in OP, directed by Chris Cotterman. Performed in the Great Hall of the St. Mary’s Community Center, 3900 Roland Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21211. Performance dates were Fridays (8 pm), Saturdays (8 pm), and Sundays (4 pm). Pre-show 30 minutes before curtain. Website:

6 June 2018
Justine Viani reads Sonnet 116 in OP in an evening of ‘Bach and Sonnets’, directed by Wolfgang Mittelmaier, at Ronnie Scott’s Upstairs, 47 Frith Street, London, 6 pm (doors open at 5).

6–29 April 2018
Baltimore Shakespeare Factory Othello in OP, directed by Tom Delise. Performances every Friday and Saturday (8 pm) and Sunday (4 pm) between the opening and when it closes on Sunday, April 29. Venue: St. Mary’s Community Center, 3900 Roland Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21211. Pre-show lectures are held before each Saturday performance at 7 pm. Pre-show entertainment takes place before every show beginning one half hour before curtain. Further details here.

23 February – 3 March 2018
The Underlings Theatre Co. presents Romeo & Juliet performed in OP. This production blends old and new as it weaves OP into a style inspired by 80s cult classic films such as Heathers and The Virgin Suicides. Directed by Lelaina Vogel with voice and text coaching by Daniel Thomas Blackwell. Presented at the Chelsea Theatre Works. Details here.

21 February – 23 March 2018
Twelfth Night in OP, presented by the Orlando Shakespeare Theater in partnership with UCF, an AEA, Elizabethan, all male, shared lighting, OP production (in repertory with Shakespeare in Love). Directed by Carolyn Howarth. Accent Master Coach-Paul Meier; Accent Coaches-Jim Helsinger and Dan Romano.

4 December 2017
Professor Joan C. Beal and Dr Ranjan Sen (University of Sheffield) reenacted in OP an extract from Act 3 of Oliver Goldsmith's (1773), 'She Stoops to Conquer’, as part of the launch event for the Eighteenth-Century English Phonology (ECEP) Database. Joan Beal played the part of Miss Hardcastle and Ranjan Sen that of Marlow. This play, and the scene chosen for the reading in particular, sheds light on issues of social class in the late 18th-century that are implied in the evaluative comments on 'polite' versus 'vulgar' pronunciations found in the pronouncing dictionaries and registered in the database. Marlow is a young gentleman who is very inhibited in the presence of young ladies of his own class, but has no such inhibitions in his dealings with women of a lower social class. Miss Hardcastle masquerades as a barmaid in order to loosen his inhibitions, with more success than she had bargained for. For Marlow's pronunciation, which would have been the type recommended by the pronouncing dictionaries of the time, Joan and Ranjan used the dictionary whose date of publication was in the same year as the first performance of 'She Stoops to Conquer': William Kenrick’s 'New Dictionary of the English Language' (1773). For Miss Hardcastle's pronunciation in the guise of a barmaid, they used the comments from all the dictionaries in the ECEP database which marked pronunciation variants as 'vulgar' or associated with the lower classes.

26 August - 22 October 2017
Love letters of Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn, performed in Original Pronunciation at the Maryland Renaissance Festival. Performers: Fred Nelson and Heather O’Shaughnessy Director: Mary Ann Jung; Artistic Director: Carolyn Spedden; OP Consultant: Valerie Dowdle. For tickets and further information see: here.

1-3 August 2017
A Midsummer Night’s Dream in OP, presented by the Sam Houston State University’s Department of Theatre and Musical Theatre Summer Repertory at the University Theatre Center’s Showcase Theatre. Directed by Penny Hasekoester with Dr Laura Avery as dialect coach and music director. For further information, see here.

25-30 July 2017
Three OP productions by the Prague Shakespeare Company at Divadlo na Pradle, Besední 487/3, Praha 1-Malá Strana, 118 00, Czech Republic 25 July, 19.00; 30 July, 14.00, Romeo and Juliet, directed by Steve Urkowitz 26 and 29 July, 19.00, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Lisa Wolpe 27 and 30 July, 19.00, Richard II, directed by Robert Gander, with Ben Crystal as Richard For tickets and further information see: here.

31 May to 3 June 2017
Crystal Clear Shakespeare, directed by Ben Crystal, presented by Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand (SGCNZ) in association with Circa Theatre & TACT. See review here

22 May 2017
The History of the World in 100 Performances, Lincoln Center, New York, 7.30 pm, includes the Premiere of Hamlet, with Adam Gopnik, Stephen Greenblatt, and actors Dan Beaulieu and Claire Warden performing a scene in OP. Screened live on Facebook Live. Video now available from the Lincoln Center: the OP part begins about 40 minutes in.

12 May 2017
Much Ado About Nothing, produced by Weyard Ensemble Theater and directed by Daniel Thomas Blackwell at Arts at the Armory, 191 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143, 7.30 pm

March-April 2017
Antony and Cleopatra, produced by Baltimore Shakespeare Factory and directed by Tom Delise. At St. Mary’s Community Center, 3900 Roland Ave, Baltimore, MD 21211. March 31 – April 23. Performances werere Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 4 pm.

19 November 2016
British Bard-Song! A Shakespearean Pageant of Voices Performers: Cambridge Timeline Choir and Juice Vocal Ensemble Workshop: 5:30–6:30 pm, Concert: 7:30pm – 9:30 pm Venue: Emmanuel United Reformed Church, Trumpington St., Cambridge 26 November 2016 Performers: Leith Hill Timeline Choir and Juice Vocal Ensemble Workshop: 5:30–6:30 pm, Concert: 7:30pm – 9:30 pm Venue: St. Martin’s Church, Dorking, Surrey

16 September 2016
THE SOUND OF THE FOLIO: Shakespeare’s Original Pronunciation. A 90-minute presentation at the University of Connecticut in conjunction with a 1-month residency of an original First Folio, curtesy of the Folger Shakespeare Library. David Alan Stern, along with several UCONN colleagues and students, discussed the recent movement to perform Shakespeare in the reconstructed Early Modern English accent, aka Original Pronunciation. They described the phonology of the accent, the kinds of linguistic research used to explore it, the work of linguist David Crystal and actor/director Ben Crystal in researching the accent and bringing it to the stage, and the history of OP productions since the Romeo and Juliet at Shakespeare’s Globe in 2004. The presentation included live OP performances by participants (including Nathan Markiewitz, co-director with Ben Crystal of OP Pericles), video excerpts from several OP productions, and recorded audio and/or video appearances by David Crystal, Ben Crystal, Paul Meier (director of the Midsummer Night’s Dream at U of Kansas), Tom Delise (director of Merchant of Venice at Baltimore Shakespeare Factory), and William Sutton (sonnet specialist and member of Ben Crystal’s PIP Shakespeare ensemble).

26 May 2016
Master Henslowe’s Diary in OP, an imaginative presentation by Ben Crystal and Passion in Practice, based on a play written by David Crystal (available in the Books and Articles section of David Crystal’s website): Shakespeare’s Globe, Thursday 26 May, 7 pm. Followed by a Q & A session.

22 May 2016
Marlowe’s Dr Faustus in OP, presented by Ben Crystal’s Passion in Practice company: Shakespeare’s Globe, Sunday 22 May, 4 pm. Followed by a Q & A session.

March and May 2016
At home, in Her chambers, Her mantle removed and withdrawn in Her nightwear, with Her musicke, Her wordes and Her teares, we join Her Majesty and Her writings with songes and musicke for the Virginalles in a remarkable spoken, sung and played programme of Dowland, Byrd, Morley and Gibbons with the readings in original pronunciation of Shakespeare sonnets and the poems and writings of Her Majesty Elizabeth Regina of England and His Majesty James VI Rex of Scotland, in costume and leaden painted visage. Performed by the EGG Ensemble: 17 March 2016 8 pm, Luftraum, Maienstraße 4, 10787 Berlin, U-Bahnhof Nollendorfplatz, Tel: 030 211 58 90; 5 May 2016, 8 pm, Kammermusiksaal Havelschlösschen, Waldmüllerstr. 3, Potsdam Klein Glienicke,Reservations: 0331 7481496?; 22 May 2016, 5 pm, Schlosskirche Köpenick, Alt-Köpenick 1, 12557 Berlin

5–8 May 2016
King Lear, directed by Murray McGibbon. Wells-Metz Theatre, Indiana University, May 5, 6 at 7.30 pm, May 7 at 2.00 and 7.30 pm, May 8 at 2.00 pm. Reviewed by Terri Bourus here.

5 May 2016
Interview with David Crystal on OP in Exeunt magazine here.

5 April 2016
Pericles: Recomposed, with Ben Crystal’s Passion in Practice Shakespeare Ensemble and L’Arte del Mondo with Daniel Hope. Tuesday April 5, 6.00 pm, Savannah Music Festival, Lucas Theatre for the Arts.

1–24 April 2016
Baltimore Shakespeare Factory’s production of The Winter’s Tale. Directed by James Keegan. Fridays (8 pm), Saturdays (8 pm), and Sundays (4 pm) from April 1-24 at St. Mary’s Community Center, 3900 Roland Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland 21211.

24 March 2016
The Oxford Dictionary of Shakespearean Pronunciation, by David Crystal, published by Oxford University Press, with an associated audio file.

July – August 2015
Henry V in OP for Shakespeare’s Globe, in the Read Not Dead series, with Ben Crystal’s Passion in Practice Shakespeare ensemble, Sunday 26 July 2015 at 16.00. Preceded by an illustrated lecture by David Crystal with the Ensemble on Thursday 16 July at 19.00. Also at The Loft, 47/49 Tanner Street, London SE1 3PL, 3-5 August 2015.

29–30 July 2015
Scenes from As You Like It in OP. Narrated by Jennifer Geizhals, directed by Louis Scheeder and Daniel Spector. Wed and Thurs, 29/30 July 2015, 7pm, the Circus Room on the 5th Floor at 721 Broadway, New York City.

March–April 2015
The Merchant of Venice in OP, directed by Tom Delise, various dates between 27 March and 25 April 2015, Baltimore Shakespeare Factory.

7 March 2015
John Donne’s poem An Epithalamion, or Marriage Song On the Lady Elizabeth and Count Palatine Being Married on St. Valentine’s Day and his A Nocturnal upon St. Lucy’s Day read by scholar and author Seth Lerer in OP, with songs by Campion, Dowland and others sung by Hallie Fishel with John Edwards on Renaissance lutes. 8pm, 7 March 2015, Heliconian Hall, 35 Hazelton Ave, Toronto.

29 January 2015
Pericles in OP, Berwaldhallen, Stockholm, 29 January 2015 at 18.00, with Ben Crystal’s Shakespeare Ensemble and music (Richter’s Four Seasons Recovered) by the Trondheim Soloists, with violin soloist Daniel Hope; introductory talk by David Crystal. Part of the Interplay series. Panel discussion followed. The performance was critically acclaimed in the Swedish press, such as this one from Dagens Nyheter: here. Louie Woodall was there to write a series of reports for The Shaksepeare Standard:
Part I
Part II
Part III

6–7 December 2014
The OP Globe Macbeth was reprised at 47/49 Tanner Street, London, reviewed here and here.

1–23 November 2014
Twelfth Night in OP, Classical Actors Ensemble, Minneapolis, MN. See here.

3–9 August 2014
Julius Caesar in Original Pronunciation, presented at the Edinburgh Fringe, 3-9 August 2014, 16.10 pm, Gryphon@WestEnd (Venue 109), University of Houston-Downtown, University Theatre, 85-min version.

July 2014
A series introducing OP in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare’s Globe on the 10th, 17th, and 20th July 2014. David and Ben Crystal presented two illustrated talks, with members of Ben’s company, Passion in Practice, and the series concluded with a production of Macbeth in OP. For some reflections and pictures, see here and here.

Ben Crystal’s company, Passion in Practice, is here.

August and October 2013
David and Ben Crystal, OP talk at the Shakespeare Institute Summer School, Stratford upon Avon, 15 August 2013; also at the Cheltenham Literary Festival, 10 October 2013.

Follow-up to the Open University video here.

The video itself can be seen on YouTube here.

1 June 2013
Live stream of OP seminar with Tim Carroll and Paul Meier from the Stratford (Canada) Festival, Saturday June 1, 2013 9:45am — 1:00pm EDT.

May and July 2013
Lecture by Dean Hoffman, ‘Materialism, Mimetics and Monophony: Novelistic Discourse in the Sloane Life of Robin Hood’. International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, May 2013. Also: ‘”It is our maner to leave but a little behind”: Speech-Act and Real Time in Performance of the Sloane Life of Robin Hood’. International Medieval Congress, Leeds (UK) July 2013.

19–21 April 2013
As You Like It, OP performance by ROSTRA at Bangor University, Wales, viewable here.

1–24 February 2013
Macbeth OP, directed by Hamilton Meadows, American Theatre of Actors, 314 W 54th St, New York City

January 2013
Katherine Twaddle, opera studies coordinator at Desautels Faculty of Music, University of Manitoba, rehearsing for a performance of Act 2 Scene 1 of Purcell’s ‘Dido and Aeneas’ in OP.

September 2012
‘First Contact’, exhibition opening 23 September 2012 at the Fisher Museum, Harvard Forest, 324 North Main Street, Petersham, MA; trailer by Roberto Mighty.

May 2012
Scenes from Shakespeare in OP, youth project at the King’s Theatre, Southsea, UK, directed by David Barrett

Virtual St Paul’s Cross Project, digital recreation of a day’s worship, including an OP John Donne sermon (1623), read by Ben Crystal, directed by John Wall, 2011-12. Progress reported here.

3 October 2012
The Life of Robin Hood (c1600), in a text taken from the British Library’s Sloane Manuscript #780, narrated in OP by University of North Carolina-Charlotte professor and author, Dean Hoffman; performed at the basilica of Belmont Abbey College, near Charlotte, North Carolina, by Carolina Pro Musica for the 2011-2012 Arts at the Abbey season, featuring 17th century dances and ballads composed by Morley, Ravenscroft, Holborne, Weelkes and others. Video clips from a perfprmance at St Martin’s Episcopal Church, Charlotte: here and here.

31 January – 8 April 2012
Cymbeline, directed by Chris Coleman, by Portland Center Stage, at the Ellen Bye Studio, 128 NW Eleventh Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97209

March 2012
‘Shakespeare’s Original Pronunciation’, CD of extracts from the British Library: for information look here

15–19 February 2012
Twelfth Night, directed by Hamilton Meadows, at the American Theatre of Actors, Chernunchin Theatre, 314 W 54th St, New York, NY 10019

1–20 November 2011
Hamlet, University of Nevada Repertory Company, directed by Rob Gander, dramaturge Eric Rasmussen, artist in residence Ben Crystal

7 July 2011
Selection from the York Mystery Plays, Sylvia Reuter, Institut für Anglistik, University of Leipzig

May 2011
William Byrd ‘s Great Service, recorded by Musica Contexta, May 2011, directed by Simon Raven; available 2012 from Chandos (CHAN 0789)

2 May 2011
Shakespeare in Clark Park, extracts directed by Alex Torra, Philadelphia

11–21 November 2010
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, University of Kansas, directed by Paul Meier, 11-21 November 2010; audio production aired on Kansas Public Radio 12 April 2012; an mp3 download of the radio production is available from here; DVD available from Films for the Humanities here

25 June 2010
Concert of songs from Middle English to Modern English, Sylvia Reuter, Institut für Anglistik, University of Leipzig

6–7 June 2010
Twelfth Night, Circle in the Square Theatre School, New York, directed by Edward Berkeley

14 August 2007
As I Pronounced It To You: Shakespeare as it Originally Sounded, extracts directed by Alex Torra, Playwright Tavern, New York

Two actors from the Troilus company add a commentary in OP on this CD produced by Shakespeare’s Globe

24 August – 28 September 2005
Troilus and Cressida, Shakespeare’s Globe, directed by Giles Block, Wednesdays 24 August – 28 September 2005

25– 27 June 2004
Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare’s Globe, directed by Tim Carroll. All OP events  at Shakespeare's Gobe have been catalogued and can be seen by searching at Type 'original pronunciation' into the search box there.

December 18. 2019