Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
The British capital is known around the world for having one of the most active and innovative art scenes. This also applies to theatre performances, and in fact, a large percentage of people who visit London include watching a theatre play into their must-do list while in the city. The Shakespeare's Globe Theatre stands out among the more than one hundred theatres that exist in London, but what exactly makes this venue so special, and what does it offer to its visitors? Read on to find out.
The Shakespeare's Globe Theatre: a brief look at its origins and history
The Shakespeare's Globe Theatre was inaugurated in 1997 and has since been a key reference in the world of the arts. However, its history and its very existence are closely linked to the Globe Theatre, a four hundred year old theatre that served as a model in the design and construction of the Shakespeare's Globe Theatre.
The Globe Theatre was originally built in 1599 in Southwark, which at the time was a cultural and entertainment hub due to the large number of play houses that existed in the area. English playwright William Shakespeare was attracted to the area for the same reason, and in 1586 he moved from North London to Southwark. Shakespeare wrote his plays mostly for a theatre company called the Lord Chamberlain's Men, and towards the end of the 16th century they decided to open a play house in Southwark, whose popularity was then booming. The play house was given the name of The Globe, and Shakespeare became a shareholder along with other actors. Unfortunately, the theatre was forced to close down only forty-five years after its inauguration, when the Puritans took over the Parliament and closed down all play houses claiming that they contributed to immorality.
The site of the old theatre remained closed for four centuries, until in the early 1970s a project was launched to reconstruct the play house. This project was led by American director Sam Wanamaker, who had previously been involved in producing Shakespeare's plays in Liverpool and in Stratford-upon-Avon. The reconstruction was not easy, as it was hard to find reliable sources that gave accurate information on the design of the original theatre. Wanamaker's objective was to build a replica that was as close to the original as possible, and to that end the theatre's structure was made with timber, like the original building. Another interesting characteristic of the Shakespeare's Globe Theatre is its thatched roof, as no other building in the capital has been allowed to be built with this material since the 1666 London Fire. The theatre's interior is a curious mix of modern and traditional design. The sitting area is made up of basic benches like those that were used in the 16th century, but the building also has some modern features, like a restaurant, a library, or a souvenir shop.
Some interesting facts about the Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
Currently, the Shakespeare's Globe Theatre can accommodate an audience of 1,557 people (857 seating and 700 standing). While this may seem a large number, the original building had a capacity of 3,000
The Shakespeare's Globe Theatre's characteristic circular shape has served as an inspiration in the building of other venues around the world. There are replicas and very similar theatres in countries as diverse as Japan, Germany, the United States, and Italy
Being such an important part of English heritage, the theatre has been chosen as the background for cinema and television scenes in films like St Trinian's 2 - The Legend of Fritton's Gold, or the award-winning TV series Doctor Who
Visiting the Shakespeare's Globe Theatre: further information and contact details
The Shakespeare's Globe Theatre is located in South London. Its full address is 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, SE1 9DT. The theatre is served by two underground stations: Mansion House (on both the Circle and the District lines), and London Bridge (which is on the Northern and Jubilee lines). The London Bridge station is also useful for visitors who arrive to London by train, as it has regular services to Kent, Sussex, Hampshire, and other areas of Greater London. The venue is wheelchair accessible and is equipped with sound amplification systems.
The season typically runs between April and October, mostly because the theatre is an open air venue and the plays could be ruined due to the inclement winter weather. However, there are occasional Christmas plays on offer at the venue. The theatre also has a permanent exhibition that runs tours around the venue all-year-round.
The box office can be contacted by calling 0207 401 9919. For more information on the exhibition tours you may call 0207 902 1500. Alternatively, visit the Shakespeare's Globe Theatre's website at http://www.shakespearesglobe.com