Part of the pleasure when I participated in the Central Park Shakespeare Sonnet Slam last year was listening to the other actors. I remember really liking the performance of the actor who went four sonnets before me, doing Sonnet 29–“When in disgrace with Fortune and men’s eyes.” I had no idea who he was.
Last night I happily came upon a YouTube video of that actor performing the sonnet at the Sonnet Slam; I know it was the same actor, because I could see myself in the video, sitting on stage, waiting to go to the mic. The actor’s name is Ben Crystal. You can see the video above.
But it also turns out that Ben Crystal is a brilliant scholar of Shakespeare’s verse and an excellent teacher. Below, you can hear him give an extraordinary lecture on the acting and dissection of Shakespearean verse. You will come away from it equipped with more tools for understanding and acting Shakespeare. If you don’t have the time to view the whole lecture, at least listen to his reading of the sonnet. It’s very, very well done.