Shakespeare’s Old Globe Theatre

Timeline of major historical events, Plays written by Shakespeares and history of the Old Globe.

On the 12th of November we set out to find the Old Globe Theatre-Shakespeare’s resident playhouse during the period when he wrote many of his most well known plays. The Globe was actually built by Shakespeare’s troupe of actors and was the first of its kind-a theatre built by actors for actors. In fact, after a dispute with their landlord at their old theatre {aptly named “The Theatre”}, they tore the place down and built the Globe with the timber!

It opened in 1599 and was where shows like Hamlet and King Lear debuted. Unfortunately, it burned down in 1613 and was rebuilt the next year on the same spot, and then demolished (!) in 1642. The current incarnation-the one we visited- is about 750 feet from the original site and opened in 1997 after much ado (haha). The creator and visionary behind the reconstruction was Sam Wanamaker who first came up with the idea in 1970 and worked continuously and against much resistance to create the building that stands today.

It’s unbelievable that there was so much resistance because what stands today is absolutely amazing. Being raised in the western/English education system it’s been drilled in my head since time imemorial that Shakespeare is the most important writer that has even been in the English language. I remember learning about the old theatre system back in 8th grade (around age 12). How it was so difficult for plays to be performed because of fears surrounding the plague, how Groundlings  (those who stood in the front pit and didn’t have a seat) could come in for something like a penny, how women weren’t allowed to act in the plays. Of course, all this information was refreshed in my head back when Shakespeare in Love came out!

The reason why there was resistance in fact is because no one believed they could create an accurate replica based off a 17th century design (prone to all those pesky fires). They persevered however, worked through the design problems and opened an breathtaking, accurate and innovative theatre. These are my humble opinions as I’m not a theatre construction expert-but my socks were blown off!

Tours are required to explore the theatre so we started off our time with exploring the museum, waiting for the tour to begin.

Midsummer Nights Dream, a personal favorite of mine as I once played Titania in high school!

Replica Model of the Old Globe Theatre

Small scale replica of the neighborhood surrounding the Old Globe as it used to stand

Costumes for productions at the Globe

The costumes were amazing {I’m sorry for the picture quality}! They were so detailed and intricate. Their Costume Master is incredibly talented because these were immaculately constructed works of art.

Instruments typical of the time period at the Old Globe Theatre

I believe these were stage sets from past productions-but it just makes for a lovely picture doesn’t it?

After we had a thorough look through the museum our tour began. Our Guide was amazing {and well suited being as he was an Actor on the side}. He told us so much information about the theatre and was happy to answer questions. After a brief orientation about the theatre he led us outside to enter through the public entrance.

Eric goes to the theatre. What a ham.

Our Guide led us to the lower terrace (above Groundling level) and told us even more about the history.

Our super cool Guide, giving us the lowdown.

We learned more about the differences between this theatre and the original. I believe certain aspects of the stage and behind the stage have been altered to suit modern day amenities. Like, y’know….bathrooms.

Then we got to go down to Pit level, where the Groundlings stand to watch the plays.

We got right up against the stage and could see everything! Look at the beautiful stage!

Closeup of the Stage Ceiling

Looking up at the balconies and the sunset sky. This is my favorite picture of the day.

Then we got to go up to the Upper Levels; where the “better seats” are and enjoy the view from where the Lords and Ladies of the day would have seen the plays.

Front view of the Stage from the Upper Levels. Bit of reconstruction work happening.

Side view of the Upper Level Balconies

As it was November the theater’s season was over {they run in the Summer}; we would have loved to have seen a show. We wandered around the complex a bit more, after the tour was done {they have an excellent gift shop}. Then we headed down to Bermondsey Street area and just tootled around, exploring and getting slightly lost. After spending most our time in Zone 2 of London I was surprised to find how touristy the area around the Globe Theatre was. It seemed like a whole other London.

We hightailed it out of that area and walked along the waterfront. Eventually we came upon Tower Bridge. A beautiful sight at night.

Tower Bridge at night

We strolled across back to the north side of town. The bridge seemed to have been freshly painted {probably for all the recent and upcoming national events-the Royal Wedding, Diamond Jubilee, the Olympics}.

Crest on Tower Bridge

We continued our wandering on the north side of the river, through Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus, finally returning from the hustle and bustle of downtown back to our haven in Islington.

I’m happy to announce that we will actually be going back to London this August! No, not for the Olympics,  but for Dan & Laura’s Wedding! Since blog posting has been a bit infrequent since we returned I’ll refresh your memory that Dan and Laura are the gorgeous couple who put us up in London for a very long time. We have graciously been invited to the wedding and it was the perfect excuse for us to get-outah town! Not only will be attending their lovely wedding but we’ve also bought Groundling tickets to see “Taming of the Shrew” at the Old Globe! Full circle! We get to see a show at this amazing theatre! We can’t wait!

On that happy note, I’ll sign off. Till next time!

<3 Chelsea

PS. All the effects on these photos were done using RadLab filters, in case you’re interested.

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