Shakespeare’s Globe Tour and Exhibition

A few weeks ago I visited Shakespeare’s Globe on London’s Bankside for a theatre tour and to view the exhibition.  The building was founded by Sam Wanamaker and is an oak-and-thatch replica of the original Elizabethan theatre

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This is the view from standing on the path next to the River Thames

As well as visiting Shakespeare’s Globe I wanted to learn more about the building and of course it’s most famous playwright, Shakespeare.  I have walked past this famous building many times, but have always been on en route elsewhere.  I therefore made sure that this was part of my Fifty B4 Fifty (click here if you want to see what else is on my list).

A map Bankside outside Shakespeare's Globe Theare

A map Bankside outside Shakespeare’s Globe Theare

THE EXHIBITION

The entrance to the Exhibition is the same as for the tour.  I am normally quite good at finding my way round but I did have trouble finding the entrance.  After going through the main entrance I was redirected back outside along the river Thames to another doorway.

A model found in the exhibition

A model found in the exhibition

The exhibition is situated under the Globe Theatre on two levels.  It is about the life of Shakespeare the London where he lived, and The Globe, the theatre for which he wrote.   Although we chose not to use it, there is a complimentary Exhibition Audio Guide.

On the day of our visit there were sword fighting and dressing demonstrations on the lower level.

THE TOUR

I would recommend checking the official website (click here) before visiting for details of when the tours are available.  From Mid-April to Mid-October tours are only available at certain times of the day due to the Globe Theatre performance season.  The website is easy to navigate and you can find out what is on any by clicking on that  date on the calendar.

Our tour leader led us onto the Piazza and gave us a 10 minute talk about the history of the original Globe theatre.  The guide’s enthusiasm shone through in her speech and body language and I could have listened for hours.

After our talk we were led into the Globe Theatre.  Whilst inside the theatre we had to remain quiet and to take no photos.  A rehearsal of The Taming of the Shrew was taking place.  The first night was later that same evening.  Whilst inside we remained seated and watched the rehearsal.  The guide did talk to us in a very quiet but still animated voice explaining the different seating areas of the Globe, and what would have gone on in days of long ago.  Although I would have liked to explore the inside of the Globe it was fascinating to watch the rehearsal and the continual going over of scenes to make sure they were perfect.

Just as in Shakespeare’s day the Globe Theatre is an open-air arena.  The actors prepare for the unexpected such as loud noises.  You may get wet if you choose to watch the play from the yard.  This is the area in front of the stage.

The tour lasts about 30 minutes and finishes just in front of the shop.  This is an aladdin’s cave  full of everything to do with Shakespeare.

Before going to the Globe I knew very little about Shakespeare or the Globe.  I had only seen one of his plays, Midsummer Nights Dream.  However, sitting in the Globe watching the rehearsal I felt the theatre come alive.  I was able to imagine what it would have been like 400 years ago.

I will definitely be going back to the Globe.  Next time though to watch a performance and have no doubt it will not be my one and only visit.

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