On Southwark’s Bankside sits Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, a dedicated centre for the performance and promotion of Shakespeare’s works, as well as new plays and touring shows. The work of playwright William Shakespeare is one of the most significant and important aspects of British heritage and since it was opened in 1997, the new Globe Theatre has been an important resource for the continued preservation of Shakespeare’s contributions to theatre, literature and the English language as a whole.
Photo Credit McKay Savage
The theatre is the best possible attempt at rebuilding the original Globe Theatre which Shakespeare himself performed in and in which he produced many of his plays before retiring to his hometown of Stratford-Upon-Avon. The last incarnation of the theatre is known to have burned down in the 17th Century during a performance of Henry VIII and it was a labour of love for American actor Sam Wanamaker to oversee the rebuilding of the theatre in the latter part of the 20th Century. Built not far from the original location, a visit to the Globe is an insight into a piece of history that continues to bring as much joy to the public now as it has for the last 400 odd years.
The theatre regularly hosts new productions of Shakespeare’s classic and lesser known plays; performances which intentionally recreate a true to life experience of contemporary Shakespearean theatre. Although there are seats around the edge of the polygonal theatre, you also have the option to stand right in front of the stage – in what would have been the cheap seats of the day. It’s funny how the least desirable seats of the time are the most popular way to enjoy an authentic Shakespeare experience today.
If you want to make sure that Shakespeare plays a part in your trip to the UK or London, getting yourself along to the Globe Theatre for a performance is the absolute best way to do it. In the coming 2013 season you can expect to catch performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Tempest and Macbeth.
There is a lot more to get from the theatre too, beyond seeing a world class performance of one of the Bard’s great creations. Underneath the theatre is the Globe Exhibition and Tour, which documents the history of the theatre, and of Shakespeare’s life and works. The exhibition is open all year round, and there are also some temporary exhibitions throughout the year which are well worth checking out if you get the chance.
Some other particularly special events which regularly take place at the Globe include midnight performances and Read not Dead events, in which actors perform directly from the scripts of some of Shakespeare’s contemporaries.
With Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre located in such a buzzing area of London anyway, it would be remiss not to check it on a visit to the capital. Stay nearby in a Blackfriars hotel or similar and you’ll have easy access to The Globe and everything else the area has to offer, including the Tate Modern and the Southbank.