Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London closes out its fifteenth season with three shows

Shakespeare's Globe Theater in London is an authentic recreation of a 17th century Elizabethan playhouse. Now any can watch Shakespeare as it was performed in his time. Photo: Shakespeare's Globe

LONDONSeptember 16, 2012 — For more than half of his life Sam Wanamaker’s passion was to rebuild Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London. Now as the fifteenth season comes to a close, visitors to London still have time to see a show before the theater goes dark in mid-October.

Theater goers can still get tickets for Taming of the Shrew, Richard II and Twelfth Night between now and October 14.

Shakespeare’s Globe (http://www.shakespearesglobe.com/theatre/on-stage) thrives today in downtown London thanks to Wanamaker’s relentless dedication. As a functioning reconstruction of an Elizabethan playhouse in the Borough of Southwark, the Globe is a tribute to William Shakespeare’s contributions to the theater, to literature and to preserving the beauty of the English language.

The Globe Theater, London

The modern day Globe, built in 1997, is an open-air theater built about 750 feet from the original site. It has a threefold purpose; an interactive museum, a source for literary education and research, and functioning playhouse with performances from May to October.

It was impossible to build the contemporary version of the Globe to exact specifications due to fire codes and other restrictions. Beyond those limitations however, the modern reconstruction is an academic approximation based upon available evidence from both the 1599 and 1614 buildings.

Every effort was made to re-create the playhouse atmosphere that existed during Shakespeare’s time. Plays are open-air performances conducted during daylight hours and in the evenings.

Just as it was in the 17th century, a thrust stage projects into a large circular yard where “groundling” can stand during the plays. The only covered portions of the venue are the stage and the three tiers of raked seating. Perhaps most amazing is the fact that Shakespeare’s Globe is today the first and only thatched roof building in the city of London since the year 1666.

Showtime at the Globe

Stage techniques and sound effects are created just as they were 500 years ago. Actors use no microphones. There are no speakers, amplification or spotlights. Music is performed live using period instruments. For sound effects, traditional techniques of the day are used, such as rolling a heavy iron ball down a ramp backstage to create thunder.

Capacity is slightly more than 850 in the seating areas plus 700 more in the pit for the groundlings, making the audience size approximately half of the typical patronage in Shakespeare’s time.

Constructed of English oak using mortise and tenon joints, the Globe incorporates authentic 17th century architecture. No structural steel was used in the design. Even the seats are nothing more than simple benches, though cushions can be rented during performances.

This incarnation of the Globe was the dream of American actor, Sam Wanamaker had a dream. When he traveled to London for the first time in 1949, he visited the site where William Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre once stood on the banks of the River Thames.

Wanamaker was dismayed when he discovered that all that signified the importance of this location where so much literary and theatrical history had taken place was a dingy marker at an abandoned brewery.

Despite nearly insurmountable objections by local government due to fears of fire and a steady parade of visitors and tourists, Wanamaker persevered and finally purchased the building along with the necessary permissions. Wanamaker established the Shakespeare Globe Trust to rebuild the theater as close to the original site, and as historically accurate, as possible.  The dream became an obsession that would challenge Wanamaker for the rest of his life.

Reaching for the stars

In 1997 the new Globe Theater opened  to the public with a production of Shakespeare’s Henry V. Wanamaker never witnessed the results. He died of prostate cancer in 1993.

Peabod is Bob Taylor, owner of Taylored Media Services in Charlotte, N.C. Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club, which creates, and escorts customized tours to Switzerland, France and Italy for groups of 12 or more. Inquiries for groups can be made at Peabod@aol.com 

Taylored Media has produced marketing videos for British Rail, Rail Europe, Switzerland Tourism, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council, the Finnish Tourist Board, the Swiss Travel System and Japan Railways Group among others. As author of The Century Club book, Peabod is now attempting to travel to 100 countries or more during his lifetime. To date he has visited 69 countries. Suggest someplace new for Bob to visit; if you want to know where he has been, check his list on Facebook. Bob plans to write a sequel to his book when he reaches his goal of 100 countries. He also played professional baseball for four years and was a sportscaster for 14 years at WBTV, the CBS affiliate in Charlotte. 


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Bob Taylor

Bob Taylor has been travel writer for more than three decades. Following a career as an award winning sports producer/anchor, Taylor’s media production business produced marketing presentations for Switzerland Tourism, Rail Europe, the Finnish Tourist Board, Japan Railways Group, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council and the Swiss Travel System among others. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com) and his goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.

 

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