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Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre

Listed under Monuments & Landmarks in London, United Kingdom.

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People seem to be under the misconception that “Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre”, the attractive round, white building with the oak looking beams and thatched roof on London's South Bank is built on the same spot as the original Globe Theatre. It’s close by no cigar. This replica, built in the same Elizabethan style and from drawings of the original Globe was finished in 1997 and houses the very excellent repertory theatre company as well as a Shakespeare exhibition and an education centre (which have their own modern fusion annexes.), is about 200 metres off the spot.

The original was where the Park Street Car Park now stands and was owned by members of the company of players Shakespeare wrote for, Shakespeare owned about an eighth of the holding. Globe mark one burned down during a performance of Henry the Eighth - a special effects stunt involving a cannon went amiss and set the thatched roof on fire (Shakespeare must have had something witty to say about that.) apparently no injuries were sustained.

One of the other main misconceptions about The Globe is that it was round - the most recent excavations under the car park have revealed it was more of a polygon with 16 to 20 sides.

What we all agree on is that it was three stories high, round-ish and something akin to a thatched stadium, part open to the sky. The common folk stood in the courtyard section while the wealthier guests and sponsors sat in the narrow, roofed tiers. The stage itself had a ceiling supported by columns. These details as well as the stage exits and entrances have been replicated in the current Globe which was built from Elizabethan plans. In every aspect, including materials and style the new version was built as faithfully as possible to the original.

If your interest is more historical or architectural than theatrical you can take a tour of The Globe which will show you some of its inner workings, otherwise the best way to experience The Globe is to see a show. Obviously it’s Shakespeare almost every night while the weather is warm enough, but some newer productions have been included in recent seasons as well.

On a Practical Note: There are 700 standing tickets available for each performance which are very cheap and often available on the day - in Shakespeare‘s time they would have squeezed another thousand people in. If you’re planning to stand take plenty of water, I had to be rescued by an old woman from St. John’s ambulance because I almost fainted (this was one of my most embarrassing moments as a young, fit person.). I would also suggest shoes you can slip on and off, it is a long time to stand in one place but if you wiggle your toes it’s much more comfortable. If you want to be really authentic bring a bag of hazelnuts with you to performances, apparently the excavations show the ground littered with shells.

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre.

Written by  Kat Mackintosh.

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

I would like to take my 12yr daughter to a matinee performance of Midsummers Dream at The Globe as she is studying both about history of The Globe and this play at school. will you be having a matinee of it/

Also Im a Londoner now living in Oxford and worked in central London for many years. Mary Kate Allens suggestions for long weekend are excellent. You could also include a trip to Covent Garden area and also have afternoon tea at one of the London hotels-v English experience!!

3 Replies

Hi Tracey - unfortunately A Midsummer Night's Dream is only doing a four day season at The Globe from the 8th to the 11th of July at 7:30 - no matinees. If you do go to The Globe my suggestions about standing tickets still apply, but it's definitely one of the best ways I know to experience Shakespeare. I hope you both love it.

I have seen midsummerNight's Dream by creation theatre before set outside in the grounds of Magdelen College School in Oxford and they used the river in their staging. It was fantastic. Id like to know your opinion on the best place to sit at The Globe. Do you think the £5 tickets would be suitable for my daughter? Would she be able to see properly or do you think that's the best place to sit/stand to get an authentic experience! I think I might take her to a matinee performance of Romeo and Juliet.

When you get standing tickets you can stand wherever you like so you can always move if you can't see. Standing on the spot for that long can be a bit of a drain if you're not 100% absorbed in what's going on on stage - so it's really up to you what you think she'll enjoy. When you stand you're at the feet of the actors. If you were going to sit I'd say the best value for money tickets are the £15 tickets in the ground level tier - the ones dotted around the edges of the isles towards the centre of the space. It's still a pretty authentic experience sitting, the seats are quite hard, but standing is the way they used to do it.

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