Sunday, 5 September 2010
A visit to the Globe Theatre
Me and Chris have walked past the Globe Theatre on the bank of the Thames dozens of times but had never gone in. A few years after it opened I was doing a geography project in the area (cataloguing how the buildings in the area are used if you were interested) and I popped my head in one of the big double doors as something was being delivered and this was closest I had gotten to the interior until last weekend.
Well we finally parted with our cash and went in, unfortunately we did not go to see a play being performed but we did have a very nice guided tour. Please excuse the naff photos, I forgot my camera and had to take pictures on my phone and my phone is a very basic model.
The current Globe is a reconstruction of the original globe theatre (which originally stood nearby) and was where Shakespeare's plays were performed (along with plays written by other writers). Back then most of London was controlled by the Puritan Christians and anything fun like gambling, dancing, singing and plays were banished to more dubious areas. The Globe as well as hosting plays would have also served as a bear pit, brothel and gambling house.
There was an extremely high turnover of plays and often actors for the parts were hired on the day. Actors were either only given their lines or someone backstage would whisper the lines to the actor allowing for no rehearsal time. Costumes were rarely used and all female parts were played by male actors. To stand in the 'pit' and watch a play would cost you 1 penny and the plays were extremely popular apart from times when there was an outbreak of Bubonic Plague.
Alas the Globe burnt down when a cannon used in one of the plays set fire to the thatched roof (no one was killed) and although it was rebuilt the Puritans came along in 1644 and spoilt all the fun when they pulled it down boooo hissssssss.
The new Globe Theartre was opened in 1997 after much fund raising from the American director Sam Wanamaker and is the first Thactched roofed building in London since the great fire in 1666. In order to stand in the 'pit' nowadays costs £5 but as the average play lasts around 3 hours and you are not allowed to bring anything in the way of seating I can't say I fancy that much. However the rest of the seating is mostly made up of simple wooden benches unless you want to pay for the most expensice seats where you get a chair. According to the guide the best place to be during the play is the pit as the actors mingle amounst the crowds and use all avaliable exits as entrences.
The Globe has seating for 587 people with and an additional 700 places in the pit which is about half the size of a shakesperean audiance (dam these modern health and safety rules!) More information on seeing a play can be found here.
It turned into quite an interesting day and was far better than its neighbour the Tate Modern.
Posted by Jess