National Teacher Conference speakers

Ben Crystal

Actor, author, creative producer

Day 1: Saturday 27 August

Ben Crystal is an actor, author, and creative producer and explorer of original practices in Shakespeare rehearsal and production. He is a special advisor to the Shakespeare North Playhouse, and a patron of Shakespeare Week.

He is the co-author of Shakespeare’s Words (Penguin 2002), The Shakespeare Miscellany (Penguin 2005) and An Illustrated Dictionary of Shakespeare (OUP 2015, shortlisted for the 2016 Educational Writer of the Year Award) with his father, David Crystal.

He wrote Springboard Shakespeare – a quartet for Arden Shakespeare / Bloomsbury, and his first solo book, Shakespeare on Toast – Getting a Taste for the Bard (Icon 2008) was shortlisted for the 2010 Educational Writer of the Year Award.

He brought together the Passion in Practice Shakespeare Ensemble and was invited with his father to explore original pronunciation (OP) in the newly finished Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Shakespeare's Globe over 2014-2016.

He founded theShakespeareEnsemble.com, an international ensemble who make full-scale productions of Shakespeare plays in 3 days or less, exploring a fusion of Elizabethan rehearsal methods and modern physical theatre techniques. They create work that responds to the environment, the community, and the space they find themselves playing in.

He is passionate about making theatre in non-English-speaking communities from inner-city warehouses to remote mountain-tops.

He gave the English Council Lecture at the British Council on Speaking the bright and beautiful English of Shakespeare. His TEDx talk was called Original Practices: Shakespeare's Craft.

He tweets from @bencrystal and gives workshops & talks on performing Shakespeare around the world.

Curt L. Tofteland

Founder, Shakespeare Behind Bars

Day 2: Sunday 28 August

Curt L. Tofteland is the founder of the internationally acclaimed Shakespeare Behind Bars program, bringing with him 40+ years of professional theatre experience as director, actor, producer, playwright, writer, teacher, and program developer.

Philomath Films documentary, Shakespeare Behind Bars, premiered at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival and at more than 40 film festivals around the world winning 11 film awards. Curt has shared his experience at film screenings and discussions and served as a guest speaker and master teacher at 70 colleges and universities across the United States.

Curt is an in-demand speaker and workshop facilitator having visited 70+ colleges and universities, completed four TEDx Talks, delivered keynotes at American conferences including the Shakespeare in Prison Network, Shakespeare Association of America, Modern Language Association, as well as internationally at Stratford, Canada; Rotterdam, Netherlands; Kolkata, India; Belfast, Northern Ireland, and Warsaw, Poland.

He is a published poet and essayist and for 20 seasons served as producing artistic director of Kentucky Shakespeare Festival. He received two Fulbright Senior Scholar Fellowships in Australia, two Doctor of Humane Letters from Oakland University and Bellarmine University, he was named a Creative Fellow at the University of Auckland, a Petra Foundation Fellowship, an Al Smith Fellowship in playwriting from the Kentucky Arts Council, the Sidney Berger Award from the Shakespeare Theatre Association, the Fleur-de-lis Award from the Louisville Forum, the Mildred A. Dougherty Award for communication from the Greater Louisville English Council, and a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Minnesota, where he received his M.F.A. in Acting.

Curt is a published poet and essayist writing about the transformative power of the arts to make us more human.

Dr Jane Montgomery Griffiths

Actor and academic

Day 1: Saturday 27 August

Jane Montgomery Griffiths is an award-winning actor and playwright and academic. She has performed in over 15 professional productions of Shakespeare in the UK and Australia, including – for Bell Shakespeare, Goneril in King Lear, Titus in Titus Andronicus, and most recently Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream. As an academic, she has held teaching positions at Cambridge, La Trobe and York St John's Universities and was for many years Director of the Centre for Theatre and Performance and Professor of Performance Practice as Monash University.

Dr Kate Flaherty

Academic

Day 2: Sunday 28 August

Kate Flaherty is a Senior Lecturer in English and Drama at the Australian National University. She teaches Shakespeare and early modern drama and poetry. Her book, Ours as we play it: Australia plays Shakespeare (UWAP, 2011) was the first book-length study of Australian Shakespeare. Other topics in cultural history on which Kate has published articles and chapter include theatre rivalry and riots, war commemoration, and education—all in connection with Shakespeare’s plays. She is currently working on a book which investigates the influence exerted by touring actresses upon political change in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Kate is a founding member of Shakespeare Reloaded—a cross-sector project which produces research and resources for Shakespeare education at school and university. She is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academia and winner of multiple teaching awards, including the 2019 ANU Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Education.