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


  1. I've been to London 5 times now, but never been inside The Globe. I only know it from the outside. I really want to go in at some point. I've seen The Royal Shakespeare Company perform in Stratford (the theatre there is quite obviously a copy of The Globe) and they were amazing, something I'll never forget. Next step up will be watching them in London, in The Globe. Great pictures, you can't even tell they weren't taken with a proper camera.

  2. Wow! Thanks so much! I didn't know you could still get standing tix for the pit. When I was last in London, the Globe was closed for some reason. Sad Birdie that day, but I'm going to make it there next time!

  3. hey, I've been there! I wish I could have gone to see an actual play there - I didn't realize they still did that.

  4. "the plays were extremely popular apart from times when there was an outbreak of Bubonic Plague."

    I like how nonchalantly you worked that in. :)

    I've been to London but not the Globe. Like Susi, I saw an RSC production in Stratford-upon-Avon which was awesome. They did Taming of the Shrew.

    Aw, you don't like Tate Modern? I had a lot of fun visiting that museum when I visited it years ago in 2003. (I also visited the one in Liverpool!) I thought the Tate Modern was very well curated and still remember pieces clearly. The text next to each art piece would give some insight into the piece without being too explanatory.

  5. I used to always walk past The Globe as well.. then I finally took a tour and really enjoyed myself. I'd love to see a play performed there.

  6. sigh, one day I will get to London. Damn puritans, they ruin everything.

  7. Susi - its the kind os place you do walk past. As they do performances in the afternoon they only do tours up to 12:30pm in the summer which is why I think we had never gone around before.

    Birdie - woul you like to stand in the pit? I think Chris would but I said no way.

    Christy - The Tate was interesting and even though I last went years ago there are still pieces that I do remember but mostly because they were so werid that I cant forget them ;)

    Clover - The season sells out really quickly as they dont do performances during the winter but I would love to go next summer and Ill look out for tickets.

    mummazappa - they do dont they LOL Ive just finished reading The Scarlet Letter and they ruin alot there as well.

  8. I like both The Globe and Tate Modern, apart from being in the same locality they are so different! I have not been fortunate enough to see a play performed there either, maybe one day.

  9. I've seen plays twice at the Globe - not recently though and it's a fab experience. Not made of strong enough stuff to stand, and I highly recommend hiring cushions when you sit!!! The actors interaction with the people at the front of the pit is always brilliant and I urge everyone to go if they get the chance!

    I'm not a Tate Modern fan either!

  10. I remember the first time I ever saw a show at the Globe. I was completely swept away. It felt like seeing shows in the way that they were originally meant to be seen.

  11. Lindy - I would love it, I think Id have to see an afternoon performance though which is how they did them anyway.

    Sazzy - Id have to hire cushions if I went then, I didnt realise they did that. Id also try to sit at the front so I could lean on the banister.

    Avid Reader - which play did you see?

  12. How interesting! If I am ever nearby, I will definitely go for a tour.

  13. I'd like to see a play at The Globe. I think it would have more atmosphere and be more of an experience in the pit, but you are right 3 hours is a long time to stand!