The first post in a new series about all that is London theatre
Shakespeare’s Globe on London’s Southbank
I’ve a confession to make. I’ve a ‘guilty pleasure’ you may call it… Besides travel, my major hobbies include theatre and dance. My love for London probably can be partly explained by those aspects as well. No longer ‘ashamed’ of this guilty pleasure, I’ve decided to dedicate a new post series to the phenomenon that is London theatre.
The Grandest, Greatest and most well-known English playwright of all times is William Shakespeare. A visit to London wouldn’t be complete without visiting Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, the famous replica of the Globe. Looking out over the Thames, the Millenium Bridge and St Paul’s Cathedral, the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre opened to the public in 1997.
The original Globe
The original Globe Theatre was built in 1599 by the playing company that William Shakespeare was part of, but was sadly destroyed by fire in 1613. American actor and director Sam Wannamaker wanted to rebuild the theatre close to its original location at Bankside, Southwark. He started a Trust Fund in 1970 and slowly but steadily started to collect money to realize his dream. Unfortunately, Sam Wannamaker passed away in 1993, so he didn’t get to see the end result of his efforts.
And his efforts certainly paid off. The result is a beautiful building, an exact replica of the original Globe Theatre. The Globe is a round theatre with no roof, to be able to let daylight in. Obviously, artificial lights didn’t exist at the time. Recently they’ve added the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, an indoor theatre lit only by candles, based on the indoor playhouses of Jacobean London.
Guided tour of Shakespeare’s Globe
So far the theoretical aspects of this post. As a theatre buff, I’ve visited the Globe lots of times and twice joined a guided tour of the theatre. These guided tours are fantastic. Mainly because of the highly passionate tour guides, who explain everything in an informal, no-nonsense way. In a relatively short period of time you hear all the juicy stories about the Globe and its visitors.
Remains of the original Globe for example were found underneath a car park, not far from Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Can you imagine? Such rich history, buried underneath an ugly piece of concrete?
Stories of Jacobean times
And of course, there are stories about the audience of the time. The higher-class people were lucky enough to get a seat, but the lower-class had to stand in the yard, packed like rats. People were interacting with the actors, shouting, drinking and more. You probably can imagine the smell… Hygiene wasn’t a priority at the time.
My attempts at telling interesting stories about the Globe stop here. I won’t be able to tell it in such a captivating way like the tour guides do.
Costumes and props galore
Before the tour starts (tours start every 30 minutes) or when the tour’s finished, you can visit the exhibition that features several scale models of the original Globe and costumes and props from plays. In addition, you’ll learn more about the life of William Shakespeare and about his famous work. Of course, if you’ve more time, you can always visit a play at either the Globe Theatre or at Sam Wanamaker’s Playhouse.
Afternoon tea at The Swan at Shakespeare’s Globe
The success of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre doesn’t stop here! Head over to the Globe Theatre’s neighbor for a delicious Afternoon Tea. The Swan at Shakespeare’s Globe Bar and Restaurant offers breakfast, lunches, dining and Afternoon Tea.
Last year I treated my friend on an Afternoon Tea for her birthday at the Swan and we both loved it. The food was sumptuous, the ambiance great, and the view on one of London’s most iconic landmarks, St Paul’s Cathedral, is priceless.
A day at the Globe Theatre is definitely one of my favorite things to do in London.
Have you ever visited?
For more information about the tours at the Globe Theatre and their agenda, please visit:
For more information about The Swan at the Globe, please visit:
Note: all photos in this post are mine