Ben Crystal, an Old Pronunciation English expert, interprets Roger Williams

Ben Crystal, an Old Pronunciation English expert, breaks down the mechanics of the OPE dialect, as well as recites passages written by Roger Williams and Shakespeare. This program allowed the audience to experience what it would have been like to listen to these iconic works spoken in the dialects of those who wrote them. Click here for a 100-minute video of his presentation produced by the Rhode Island Historical Society.

Roger Williams National Memorial Ranger John McNiff introduces Ben Crystal on this unique Zoom program arranged by the Rhode Island Historical Society. This is the first time in several hundred years that the sounds of Roger Williams’ works were heard in its original pronunciation. Crystal is an actor, author, producer, and explorer in original practices of Shakespeare rehearsal and production based out of Anglesea Wales, UK. He has led original practice explorations for Shakespeare’s Globe, the British Library, and the British Council. He performed the title role in the world contemporary premier of Hamlet in Original Pronunciation, and in 2012 was the curator and creative director for a CD of Shakespeare in Original Pronunciation for the British Library.

Ben and John share their perspectives on how the Old English language changed over time before the audience of 82 viewers posed questions.

(Above) Ranger McNiff illustrates the talk with copies of the original deed to Providence signed by Canonicus and Miantinomi and the original cover of Williams’ A Key into the Language of America that he wrote on his way back to England in 1643 to obtain a charter from the king. To quote Roger Williams, “A little Key may open a Box, where lies a bunch of Keyes.” This experience opens the doors to a new perspective and understanding of what life in the 1600s was like.