No trip to London is complete without a visit to the theatre. For an authentic Elizabethan theatre experience, there is nothing else quite like going to the Globe Theater.
Located on the south side of the Thames, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre offers both the visitor and the theatre patron an opportunity to experience what a theatre would have been like in the days of the bard. The dream was many years in the making and it wasn’t until 1993 that construction finally began. It opened to the public four years later in 1997. In addition to the Globe Theatre, there is an Education Center and Shakespeare’s Globe Exhibit.
Visually, the Globe Theatre is a faithful reproduction of what would have been the theater of Shakespeare’s day. It is located very close to where the original stood. Theatre was banned from London proper in the late 16th century and soon they began to spring up on the south bank. It was a disreputable area populated by thieves and prostitutes. It took a brave man to go to Southwark and obviously there were many. The original Globe Theatre was dismantled during The Protectorate when Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans ruled England. Its location wasn’t discovered until the 20th century.
If you are expecting cushy box seating and the usual theatre comforts, forget it.You will be seated on a wooden bench and if you plan well you will have a wall to lean against. The view of the stage, however, is perfect. It is open air and if there was a driving rain, there is no way that you could avoid getting wet.
It was interesting to have barkers walking around selling sandwiches and drinks; it was pretty much a three-ring circus going on while patrons are trying to watch the play. The cheapest seats in the house aren’t seats at all, you can stand in the area around the front of the stage for practically nothing.
Getting to the theatre will involve quite a bit of walking from either the Mansion House Tube Station or the Southwark Tube Station. Splurging for a taxi is always an option.
Every year there are Shakespearean productions as well as cutting edge new works offered. The season runs from April through October. Compared to New York, ticket prices are amazingly economical.
Tours of the Globe Exhibition are available every day, reservations are not required. Tours begin every 15-30 minutes. There is a costume exhibit that is explained in detail. You will hear about fitting costumes and their importance to the total production. You will also learn how special effects are created on the stage; this is live theater so computers animation isn’t an option.
Music is another thing that is very important to the Shakespearean productions and part of the exhibition is learning about the instruments that are used. Have you ever wanted to operate a 17th-century printing press? You will be creating a copy of Hamlet for yourself on their press.
One of the most fascinating parts of the tour is learning about the building of the new Globe Theatre Everything from thatching the roof to designing the seating is explained.
In addition, you get a tour of the theatre and watch a short film telling about the ongoing archaeological discoveries that are being made in the area. On days when there is a matinee performance you will get to visit the site of the Rose Theater instead.
Over 500,000 people visit Shakespeare's Globe annually. Next time you are in London make it 500,001.
“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players”; William Shakespeare’s As You Like It.