A First Timer’s Guide To The Globe Theatre

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London’s theatrical heritage dates back hundreds of years. From the 19th century boom of the West End to cutting edge contemporary theatres, London’s penchant for performance is part of its charm. Indeed, any first time visitor to the city and guests of boutique hotels in London should experience the theatre scene of London at least once in their lifetime. For Shakespeare and classic theatre lovers, the Globe, an open air theatre close to London Bridge is a great place to start.

Teeming with theatre tradition and history, many famous actors have trodden the boards of this world-renowned institution. Come rain or shine, guests of

hotel spas in London

will find a traditional Shakespeare play or contemporary work inspired by the Bard being performed by the repertory Globe Theatre Company every day of the week.

From tours and tickets to history and gift shops, this blog will provide an introduction to the Globe Theatre for first time visitors and some handy tips to make the most of your experience.

What’s The Significance Of The Globe Theatre?

The Globe Theatre is famous for being a lifelike reconstruction of the theatre of the same name built back to 1599. Not only is the present Globe a near-identical reconstruction of the original, but a paean to the site at which WIllaim Shakespeare, possibly one of the most famous playwrights in history, made his name and staged his plays for most of his life.

It is for this reason that the Globe Theatre Company programme seasons of traditional and authentic restagings of the Bard’s plays. These plays may be given modern twists, but they utilise the same stripped back lighting, costumes and tech that would have been used in the 17th century.

The Original Globe Theatre

The original Globe Theatre was located between Southwark Bridge and Porter Street, and was built in 1599 by shareholders in the Lord Chamberlain’s Men theatre company. Built from timber, the theatre was actually dismantled and moved to its well known site after lease disputes led to it being transported from Shoreditch, the theatre’s original site.

The Globe had to be reconstructed in 1613 when a cannon used during a performance of Shakespeare’s Henry VIII set fire to the stage. The theatre was rebuilt the following year, but lasted until 1644. In September that year, the theatre was closed down and eventually dismantled in 1645 after the First English Civil War’s Long Parliament decreed all London theatres to close.

Reconstruction Of The Globe

After years of mystery, the exact location of the original Globe Theatre was discovered under a car park behind a street called Anchor Terrace. With theatre director Sam Wanamaker’s decades long campaign for a new Globe Theatre through his Shakespeare Globe Trust, his dreams finally came true after years of planning and campaigning led to the reconstruction in 1997, little more than 200 metres from its original site.

Though there were worries about the fire hazards of a lifelike modern replica of the Globe, a meticulous design and architectural team modernised the original spherical construction. Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre is so successful that it has not had to operate with any government funding at all, bringing in around £24 million a year through its great value performances.

Open Air Globe

With its thrust staging and open air auditorium, nighttime performances at the Globe Theatre are performed with floodlights and no microphones. There is little in the way of electricity at the Globe Theatre and in the winter, it’s advised that the audience wrap up warm!

These conditions provide a raw, immediate feel to performances and give actors and directors the space and freedom to experiment with the original Elizabethan format of open air theatre.

On top of this, the 700 standing tickets available per show lend even more likeness to the original style of performance. The open air Globe Theatre seats and stands 1573 people altogether, which is around half of what would have been the capacity of the original – though health safety standards were far more relaxed back then!

Sam Wanamaker Theatre

Guests of the Montcalm Hotel London who are a little more sensitive to the cold needn’t fear. A second indoor theatre was opened within the grounds of Shakespeare’s Globe. The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse has 340 seated tickets and no standing unlike its parent venue. It is however built in the style of an Elizabethan theatre. This performance space offers more modern renditions of Shakespeare plays as well as new writing inspired by the Bard.

Guided Tours Of The Globe

Guided tours of the Globe Theatre run for 50 minutes and take visitors through backstage areas and around various parts of the theatre itself. You’ll learn from trained guides about the Shakespeare’s Globe’s history and mythology, as well as how it was designed and planned as a venue. Discounts are available for families and groups and it’s worth remembering that the tour times will be dependent on performances and workshops taking place in the theatre.

Short Courses At The Globe

The short courses at the Globe Theatre are aimed at 8-10 and 11-13 year olds and provide young people with the chance to develop their acting skills and knowledge of Shakespeare with trained professionals from the Globe Theatre Company. These courses are available throughout the year.

Ticket Options

For the main space in the Shakespeare’s Globe, standing and seated tickets are available. It’s worth remembering that tickets are more expensive for seating, and if you have mobility issues, never fear as there is disabled access on site.

Getting To The Globe

Guests of Mayfair Hotels in London can access the Globe Theatre via London Bridge Station, just a ten minute walk away along the southern banks of the Thames. Buses also run close to the Globe Theatre, and you can also reach it via Thames river cruises thanks to Bankside Pier, located right beside the theatre.