Built nearly 400 years after the original theatre burnt down, and standing close to the same spot on the south bank of the Thames, the Globe is a world-class attraction for world-class drama. There are now two auditoria – the main theatre, which is an open air Elizabethan-style playhouse with a standing area for the ‘groundlings’, and the more intimate (and indoor) Jacobean-style Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.
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Five interesting facts about Shakespeare’s Globe
In Shakespeare’s day, the Thames was wider and the original Globe sat next to the river. The new Globe couldn’t be built on the exact same site because there are listed Georgian buildings in the way.
Other works are performed at the Globe, but Shakespeare’s plays form the core of the programme. In 2012 a series of performances were given in a range of other languages, including ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ in Urdu, ‘Richard II’ in Palestinian Arabic, and a hip hop ‘Othello’.
An American founded Shakespeare’s Globe – the actor and director Sam Wanamaker. He moved to London after being put on the Hollywood blacklist in the 1950s and became heavily involved in British theatre. His name is given to the Globe’s second venue, the indoor playhouse that opened in 2014.
Inspired by the design of the sixteenth-century Blackfriars Theatre, the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse is a candlelit space. During intervals the chandeliers are lowered to just above the audience’s heads, in order to allow the candles to be trimmed before the performance continues.
The original Globe Theatre burned down when a misfired cannonball caught the (very flammable) thatched roof during a production of ‘Henry VIII’.