Shakespeare's Globe is a painstaking reconstruction of the open-air theatre where Shakespeare's plays were first performed in the 17th century. The theatre program runs from spring to autumn. It focuses on Shakespeare and his contemporaries, transporting you straight back to the Elizabethan era with performances of Hamlet or The Tempest in historical costume. Plays with period musical instruments are performed during daylight for an authentic atmosphere.

    Part of the same complex is Sam Wanamaker Playhouse – this indoor, candlelit theatre hosts excellent shows all year round. Tours and exhibitions educate the public on Shakespeare's life and work, the theatre's architecture, and life in London during the Elizabethan era. There's also a wide range of educational lectures and workshops for both students studying Shakespeare and the general public.

    Shakespeare's Globe in London - one of the highlights of 6 Places to Learn Something New in London and 10 Best Theatres in London (Read all about London here)

    What are the highlights of Shakespeare's Globe?

    Seeing a play at Shakespeare's Globe is a unique and unforgettable experience. The theatre puts on various Shakespeare productions throughout the year, often popular plays like Romeo & Juliet and A Midsummer Night's Dream. The rest of their programme is taken up by a range of Elizabethan playwrights like Ben Johnson and John Fletcher, plus classics like Ovid's Metamorphoses and innovative modern productions.

    Tours of the theatre will show you how the trapdoors and special effects would have worked, show you the handmade costumes worn by the actors, and demonstrate a spectacular display of sword-fighting. There are also workshops and interactive storytelling for kids from the age of 5 years old. Dining options are excellent, with a great range of brunches, afternoon teas and Sunday roasts. The onsite shop has some outstanding books on history and literature, as well as lots of Shakespearean t-shirts.

    A brief history of Shakespeare's Globe

    The original theatre was simply called 'The Globe' and was built in 1599 by a consortium of actors that included William Shakespeare. Southwark was a popular entertainment district in the Elizabethan era, home to several theatres and dozens of taverns. The Globe Theatre was built for an audience of up to 3,000 people, with a standing area in front of the stage surrounded by three tiers of seating.

    The first play performed here was Julius Caesar, and over the years the theatre saw the opening performances of King Lear, Othello, Hamlet and As You Like It. In 1613, the Globe burned down when a stray spark from a cannon set fire to the thatch roof. The current Shakespeare's Globe is a meticulous reconstruction of the original Elizabethan theatre, using historical building techniques like oak pegs in place of nails or screws.

    Good to know about Shakespeare's Globe

    Shakespeare's Globe is an open-air theatre with sides but no roof, so dress for the weather in warm or waterproof clothing. The cheapest seats, or 'groundlings', are for standing only, just as in Shakespeare's day, while the more expensive tickets include a seat on a wooden bench, and blankets and cushions are available for hire. If you're close to the stage, make sure to look up at the 'heavens' – the false roof above the stage has magnificent paintings of the sun, moon and mythical figures.

    Shakespeare's Globe is within a short walk along the river from the Tate Modern and Borough Market. You can get here via the Underground from Blackfriars, just a 10-minute walk away and served by the Circle and District Lines, or London Bridge, a 15-minute walk and served by the Jubilee and Northern lines.

    Shakespeare's Globe in London

    Location: 21 New Globe Walk, London SE1 9DT, UK

    Phone: +44 (0)20 7902 1400

    Victoria Hughes | Contributing Writer

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