Hailed as one of the greatest writers of all time, William Shakespeare continues to intrigue new generations of audiences with his rich canon of work. The poet and playwright continues to capture the imagination with dynamic storytelling spanning drama and comedy, war and peace, romance and revenge and everything in between. Over the course of his lifetime, he penned or co-penned 37 plays, 154 sonnets and five long-form poems. That is a remarkable feat and this intelligent man left an indelible mark and his works are still loved by so many around the world.
In fact, everyone has a favorite from Shakespeare from the tragic, star-crossed lovers in Romeo and Juliet to the conniving king Richard III or the enchanting and funny cast of characters in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Today, the master scribe’s legacy is alive and well at Shakespeare’s Globe theatre.
Near the River Thames in the Bankside Cultural Quarter of London, Shakespeare’s Globe theatre is an exquisite and impressive reproduction of the original 17th century Globe Theatre that was sadly destroyed by fire in 1613 only to later be demolished in 1644.
Spearheaded by the late American actor and director Sam Wanamaker whose lifelong vision was to rebuild the Globe to its original glory and designed by architect Theo Crosby and built by builders McCurdy and Co., the modern Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre officially opened its doors on June 12, 1997 just a short distance away from the site of the original iconic structure. Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth and Philip II were there for the monumental occasion with Henry V gracing the stage as the first production. It is also important to note that the launch of Shakespeare’s Globe was made possible after 27 years of extensive planning and four years of construction. As a result of this endeavor to preserve and promote the works of the Bard, admirers of Shakespeare’s plays are now able to experience theatre at its finest both indoors and outdoors with this spectacular venue.
Sometimes referred to as the “Third Globe,” Shakespeare’s Globe is reminiscent of its earlier inspiration with stage pillars crafted from green oak wood, among other distinctive details. The thatched roof is a departure from the original design but definitely adds to the overall aesthetic of Elizabethan times.
Since first opening, the stunning venue, which includes the recreated Globe as well as the indoor Jacobean era-inspired, candle-lit Sam Wanamaker Playhouse and the adjacent educational and rehearsal complex, The Sackler Studios, has welcomed thousands of visitors all eager to enjoy productions of both the classical plays of the Bard like All’s Well That Ends Well, The Tempest and Love’s Labour Lost and the fresh works of contemporary writers such as After Edward by Tom Stuart opening in spring 2019.
Along with awesome theatrical productions, Shakespeare’s Globe theatre offers enriching programming for all ages including stellar acting workshops, riveting lectures, staged readings, online events, community events and fascinating temporary exhibitions such as Hell & Damnation, which delves into the underground and ghosts with props and photographs of past productions, and also complements the 2018-2019 dark winter productions of Macbeth and Dr. Faustus by Christopher Marlowe, Shakespeare’s fellow Elizabethan playwright known for his tragic works.
Performances at Their Finest
Perhaps no other writer in the world has captured the complexity of the human spirit than William Shakespeare. Fortunately for lovers of his writing, they are still able to experience the rich emotions of his famous plays at Shakespeare’s Globe theatre. Over the years, the acclaimed playhouse has presented world-class Shakespeare productions such as Twelfth Night, the cross-dressing comedy directed by Emma Rice to the more politically charged and moving Cymbeline directed by Sam Yates as well as a thrilling revival of The Merchant of Venice directed by Jonathan Munby and featuring renowned stage actor Jonathan Pryce, just to name a few.
Expect even more excellent productions for the 2019 theatrical season and beyond. Theatre-goers will no doubt want to head to straight to the box office at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre with its exciting line-up that includes a new take on Edward II featuring the first ever company of women of color from February 22-April 21, 2019 and the Sam Wanamaker Festival happening later in March with public performances from students of the top drama schools in the United Kingdom and Rutgers Conservatory at Shakespeare’s Globe. Also on the bill for the season are Romeo and Juliet and Emilia! By Morgan Lloyd Malcolm.
Behind the Scenes
Once again the world of William Shakespeare comes to life with the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre offering visitors the chance to explore and learn about the writer and theater’s history with inspiring, educational, guided tours year-round. Intrigue abounds and these tours are a great addition to any London itinerary.
Aspiring thespians head here for specialist training and are exposed to everything from the historical conditions in which the productions of Shakespeare were produced to verse-speaking and other elements such as the relationship between actor and audience. Educational programs are offered during different times of the year and range from two-days to full semesters.
For anyone else who wants an intimate look at the venue, The Globe Theatre Tour offers 40 minutes of intriguing details on the original Globe, colorful stories from productions past and present and access to the latest exhibition. There is so much to discover from stories of special effects, the use of trap doors to elaborate costumes and cosmetics that added extra flair to all of the Shakespearean productions.
Of course, grownups and children will certainly have a blast on the Globe Theatre Family Tour which is geared to seven- to 11-year-olds and touches on poetry, prose, gore and more.
An important thing to keep in mind is that when performances are taking place in the theater, Shakespeare’s Southwark Tour offers an alluring alternative as guides take groups back to Elizabethan London and the vibrant theatre scene. Highlights include stops to local landmarks and the sites of former locations of the Rose and Globe theaters.
Other fun activities for families include Shakespeare’s Birthday Storytelling event which takes place annually (Shakespeare’s actual birth date is unknown but events typically take place in the spring), and this year it happens to take place Sunday, April 22 with a Global Storyteller weaving tales of war, peace and more from the play Henry V.
As for food and drink, Shakespeare’s Globe offers a dazzling destination for dining with the Swan, an inviting two-floor bar and restaurant offering guests a seasonal menu and views of the Thames and St. Paul’s. Along with pre and post-theatre dining, visitors may also enjoy breakfast, an Afternoon Tea inspired by the magical play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and evening cocktails and small plates.
Whether you are a fan of William’s work, Shakespeare’s Globe theatre offers a rare glimpse of the life and enduring cultural contributions of one of the world’s greatest scribes.
In the spirit of Shakespeare’s own words, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.”
So are you ready to be part of the act and immerse yourself in all things Shakespeare? If yes, start planning your trip today. The Shakespeare’s Globe is located at 21 New Globe Walk in Bankside, London. The Box Office is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., while guided tours of the theatre are offered daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.