When DH and I visited London recently, I just had to see the Globe Theatre, the home of William Shakespeare’s company. The Globe we visited is actually the third Globe Theatre, built a few hundred yards from the foundation of the original.
The current reconstruction of the Globe was the brainstorm of American actor/director Sam Wanamaker. On a visit to London in 1949, he was disappointed to find that there was no great memorial to Shakespeare at the site. He started a foundation and spearheaded the rebuilding of a new Globe. Sam Wanamaker died in 1993 while the construction was underway. The building was completed in 1997.
We enjoyed the play, The Merry Wives of Windsor from the upper balcony. We had great seats, facing the stage. In the lobby, theatre volunteers were renting seat cushions for one pound each. We decided it might be a good idea to rent them. Good move. The theatre is generally a historically-accurate recreation of the original Globe, which means you sit on tiny wooden seats in the open-air theatre. But it was worth it! The play was fantastic and a very fun experience.
Two school groups were sitting in the lower area near the stage. They looked like they had come straight from Hogwarts, minus the robes, but with navy blazers and ties for boys and girls.
Tours of the Globe are held in the morning, so DH graciously accompanied me back to the Globe (the only site we visited twice during our trip) for the next morning’s tour. The theatre is in the Southwark neighborhood, across the Thames River. I pronounced it South-wark (in my Southern accent) until I heard the message on the Underground announce we were approaching Southwark station (pronounced Su-therk as in Southern with a K at the end instead of an N).
The first Globe Theatre was built in 1599 and stood for 14 years until a fire started by a cannon fired during a production of Henry VIII caused the entire structure to burn to the ground. The second Globe was built in 1613 with a tiled roof. William Shakespeare died two years after this Globe was built. The Globe met its demise in 1642 when the Puritan government closed and demolished all theatres calling them “nests of the devil”.
I’ll stop for now, but more on the Globe’s original theatre patrons later.