On a warm summers day Mr S and I strolled along Bankside to my all time favourite theatre – The Globe. Even on my fourth visit the building never fails to impress me. This time my eyes and ears would be feasting on Iqbal Khan’s production of Macbeth, a Scottish fable where in a nutshell – crime doesn’t pay.
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre London
The power of watching Shakespeare in its near original surroundings is phenomenal. Reading Shakespeare is completely different from seeing it performed. Scrap your memories of being forced to read the Bard’s work in your youth and experience the plays with fresh eyes and ears. Every year two hundred and fifty million people pass through these gates.
The latest incarnation of Shakespeare’s Globe was founded by Sam Wanamaker an American actor and director. Construction began in 1993 and completed in 1997. Unfortunately Sam Wanamaker never got to see its glory, but you on the other hand can go and experience its magnificence. Not only a venue for Shakespeare’s works you can also enjoy a tour and exhibition on site.
The Globe’s ticket prices are lower than most theatres in the city. This is a place where the cheapest tickets really are the best. The groundlings or standing tickets are a mere £5. Here you’ll be closest to all the action and maybe even lucky enough to stand beside a cast member whilst performing. Be warned though the performances are usually three hours long – leg and backache is a given. Speaking from experience sitting on a wooden pew for that length of time will also be testing.
Cushions are available for £1, which only delay the onslaught of bottom pain in my opinion – utterly worth it though!
Faithful to days of yonder
All the productions at The Globe honour the traditions of four hundred years ago with music and sound effects being performed live. Being an open air venue the show goes on come rain or shine. No different to Shakespearian times, apart from the fact you can now buy disposable raincoats if the fickle British weather doesn’t play ball. One big change is the number of people The Globe holds. Today it fits half the number of the original Globe – 1,500. Safety regulations and people’s reluctance to squeeze in like sardines to blame.
In 1613 the original Globe Theatre was burnt to the ground during a performance of Henry VIII. The thatched roof and wooden beams caught fire from a theatrical misfired cannon and amazingly there were no fatalities.
Today’s Globe Theatre is made from more than a 1000 oak trees all from our very own English forests. There are 6000 bundles of reeds in the thatch roof from Norfolk and the goats lent a helping hand too with their hair in the plaster mixture. Even the foundation bricks are copies from an actual tudor brick!
Written in the stars
The Globe’s dimensions were dictated by the movement of the planets during the reign of Elizabeth I (1533-1603).
And you may be surprised to now it’s not a circle, but in fact an icosagon commonly known as a 20-sided polygon.
With so many of the audience standing, there is inevitably the occasional fainter during performances in the heat. In 2006 Lucy Bailey’s production of Titus Andronicus was so gruesome and gory they had a record breaking 15 fainters! Be that a lesson and remember your water bottle or prosecco ice pop in warmer climes!
At the end of every performance there is no bowing. Instead they jig. It’s quite a sight watching the whole cast dancing faster and faster whilst the audience clap in time. A brilliant way to end an evening
Even if you don’t have a chance to see a production, seeing the beautiful building and experiencing the tours and exhibition is a wonderful day out.
Have you ever been to The Globe? Which Shakespearian play would you love to see? Let me know in the comments box below.
Shakespeare’s Globe | 21 New Globe Walk | Bankside | London | SE1 9DTwww.shakespearesglobe.com
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