Shakespeare's Original Pronunciation

Speeches and Scenes Performed as Shakespeare Would Have Heard Them

The British Library

Shakespeare's Original Pronunciation
Listen to samples from the CD.

The British Library

Distributed for British Library

With an Introduction by David Crystal
1 compact disc with 1 booklet | © 2012
Compact Disc $15.00 ISBN: 9780712351195 Published April 2012 For sale in North and South America only

How did the actors of Shakespeare’s stage sound to the audiences of his day? For the first time, this disc offers listeners the chance to hear England’s greatest playwright performed by a company of actors using the pronunciations of the Elizabethan era. Under the guidance of Ben Crystal—actor, author of Shakespeare on Toast, and an expert in original Shakespearian pronunciation—the company performs scenes from Shakespeare’s plays and several of his best-known poems. Listeners will hear new meanings uncovered, new jokes revealed, and poetic effects enhanced. The CD is accompanied by an introductory essay by Shakespeare authority David Crystal.

1. Sonnet 116
    In modern English
    Reader: Ben Crystal

2. Sonnet 116
    In original pronunciation
    Reader: Ben Crystal

3. Sonnet 18
    Reader: Joan Walker

4. Sonnet 71
    Reader: Natalie Thomas

5. Sonnet 154
    Reader: Matthew Mellalieu

6. A Midsummer Nights' Dream (from Act 3)
    Oberon: Philip Bird

7. As You Like It (from Act 2)
    Jaques: Colin Hurley

8. Hamlet (from Act 3)
    Hamlet: Matthew Mellalieu

9. Henvry V (from Act 3)
    Henry V: Benjamin O'Mahony

10. Macbeth (from Act 2)
    Macbeth: Colin Hurley

11. Richard II (from Act 5)
    Richard II: Ben Crystal

12. The Winter's Tale (from Act 3)
    Hermione: Rebecca Pownall

13. As You Like It (from Act 2)
    Jaques: Philip Bird

14. The Merchant of Venice (from Act 4)
    Portia: Natalie Thomas

15. The Two Gentlemen of Verona (from Act 4)
    Launce: Matthew Mellalieu

16. Richard III (from Act 4)
    Queen Margaret: Joan Walker

17. Richard III (from Act 1)
    Gloucester: Colin Hurley

18. The Tempest (from Act 5)
    Prospero: Hilton McRae

19. Twelfth Night (from Act 2)
    Malvolio: Ben Crystal
    Viola: Rebecca Pownall

20. The Comedy of Errors (from Act 3)
    Antipholus of Syracuse: Colin Hurley
    Dromio of Syracuse: Benjamin O'Mahony

21. Romeo and Juliet (from Act 2)
    Romeo: Benjamin O'Mahony
    Juliet: Natalie Thomas

22. Much Ado about Nothing (from Act 4)
    Benedick: Ben Crystal
    Beatrice: Rebecca Pownall

23. Julius Caesar (from Act 3)
    First Plebeian: Benjamin O'Mahony
    Third Plebeian: Colin Hurley
    Antony: Philip Bird
    Fourth Plebeian: David Crystal
    Second Plebeian: Rebecca Pownall

24. Twelfth Night (from Act 3)
    Feste: Hilton McRae
    Viola: Rebecca Pownall

25. Hamlet (from Act 2)
    Hamlet: Ben Crystal
    Rosencrantz: Simon Manyonda
    Guildenstern: Benjamin O'Mahony

26. Othello (from Act 4)
    Desdemona: Natalie Thomas
    Æmilia: Joan Walker

27. King Lear (from Act 1)
    King Lear: Hilton McRae
    Goneril: Suzanne Sylvester
    Cordelia: Natalie Thomas
    Regan: Rebecca Pownall

28. Macbeth (from Act 2)
    Lennox: Simon Manyonda
    Macbeth: Colin Hurley
    Macduff: Philip Bird
    Lady Macbeth: Suzanne Sylvester
    Banquo: Mattew Mellalieu
    Donalbain: Benjamin O'Mahony
    Malcolm: Ben Crystal

Duration: 75 minutes
Review Quotes

“The British Library's new CD, Shakespeare’s Original Pronunciation, is the first of its kind featuring speeches and scenes which claim to be performed as Shakespeare would have heard them. The CD is said to bring to life rhymes and jokes that are not audible in contemporary English—as well as to illustrate what Hamlet meant when he advised his actors to speak ‘trippingly upon the tongue.’ ”—Telegraph

Sue Arnold | Guardian

“An enthusiastic bunch of actors demonstrate how the Bard’s sonnets, songs and various famous scenes from his plays would have sounded to Elizabethan audiences. Pronounce ‘hour’ as a 16th-century actor would have, that is, to rhyme with ‘whore,’ and listen to the double entendres multiply. Eng lit aficionados will love it.”
“The project ... is a remarkable achievement, which is the first of its kind. If you are a student new to Shakespeare, or an accomplished scholar, this CD gives a fresh perspective on the Bard’s words. It is so fun to listen to, you will be walking around the rest of the day imitating the sounds and ‘speaking the speech.’”
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