Nestled near the Tate Modern and the Millennium Bridge, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre may seem a little out of place. It was, after all, designed after the original Globe Theatre which was built in 1599, (and then later rebuilt in 1614 after it was destroyed by a fire).
When it was first constructed, the Globe Theatre was located in the epicentre of London's entertainment district on the Bankside in Southwark. Performances were put on by the Lord Chamberlain's Men, and it is said that Shakespeare himself even sat in the theatre to watch his own performances.
The modern-day Globe Theatre is an oak-and-thatch replica of the original 1599 Elizabethan playhouse (which once sat about 200 metres from where the Globe stands today), and as a result concertgoers will feel as if they've been transported back to Elizabethan times when watching a performance.
Today the theatre serves as an open-air venue dedicated to the work of Shakespeare, and some of the many performances visitors can still watch at the playhouse include A Midsummer Night's Dream, Macbeth, The Taming of the Shrew, and many, many more. Depending on the time of year, several plays, operas, comedy shows and candlelit concerts are held inside the playhouse as well.
Visitors can sit on the wooden benches (which can sit up to 340 people) surrounding the stage, or in any of the two tiers of galleried seating, and there are also productions held in the recently-opened Sam Wanamaker Playhouse (a candlelit indoor theatre located inside the Globe's building). Attendees can even stand in the standing rabble directly in front of the stage, just as they did in the original theatre during Elizabethan times.
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre Highlights
Not only does the Globe Theatre host numerous performances throughout the summer months, they also host guided tours of the playhouse as well as the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, which are led by the Globe's many performers. During the tours, visitors are educated on the history of the Globe, and will also be shown costume and prop collections which are used during performances at the theatre.
Another highlight includes the Globe Theatre's Exhibition, which educates visitors on Shakespeare's life, as well as where he lived in London. It also gives some background on what Southwark would have looked like during Elizabethan times, as well as more information on the construction of the original playhouse.
Depending on when you visit, there may also be some temporary exhibitions and/or galleries being held inside the playhouse, which range from historical to photography exhibitions.
- If you want to avoid the large crowds, try to avoid watching performances between May and August as it can get incredibly busy. If you plan on going on a tour, the 9:30 a.m. tours are usually the quietest.
- If you plan on sitting on any of the wooden benches during a performance, it may be a good idea to rent a seat cushion for £1 as the benches can get quite uncomfortable after sitting for longer periods of time.
- For the best view during a performance, try to get a spot leaning on the stage or the outer walls; (be prepared to get some interaction from the actors during the performance as well!)