Once again, we have decided that it’s high time for another Smartsave outing. And this time we not only went out of the office, but centuries back in time. Have you ever wondered what the historic looking building on the South side of the river Thames in London hides? Listen up as we tell you all about our guided tour at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre – a beautiful reconstruction of The Globe.
Let’s start at the beginning…
You might think that someone guiding a tour which takes place every 40 minutes, every day of the week, could get bored telling the same story and facts over and over again. However, that was not at all the case. After assembling with everyone taking part in the tour in the entrance hall – there were surprisingly many attendees given the fact that it was a just a regular Thursday morning – the experience began with a very sincere welcome by our lovely expert tour guide.
We then made our way up the stairs to the attraction we’ve all been wanting to see up-close. The popular London landmark building. The famous Elizabethan playhouse for which none-other than Shakespeare wrote his plays: Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Unfortunately, not the original, though, since that one had to shut down in the 1640s. But still, no less impressive for sure.
A little history lesson…
Most of us did not really have a well-founded background knowledge about the Shakespearean age in London, we must admit. Therefore, we urgently needed an introduction. The first stop of the tour was the spacious terrace right in front of the gate into the theatre. With a magnificent view on the river Thames and some famous sights of London’s north bank, such as St. Paul’s Cathedral, in the background, the guide started telling us about London in the 16th century. Back then, public plays could not take place in the city centre. Just as little as any other sort of entertainment and fun. And the South bank didn’t even belong to the city back then. So, Shakespeare and his companions, called the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, decided to build their theatre over there in 1599. Can you imagine that back then, the area was some sort of a historical Las Vegas Strip? Sadly, it didn’t really last that long and burnt down in 1613.
Despite reconstruction, the theatre closed only about 30 years afterwards, when Long Parliament ruled the closure of the London theatres. Not particularly a long operating life for a theatre that is said to be the most magnificent theatre that London had ever seen. What a shame!
That’s exactly what Sam Wanamaker thought, highly passionate about William Shakespeare, The Globe Theatre, and anything related to that matter. He started a campaign and raised funds in order to rebuild the historical building for the benefit of all of us. In 1997, after several years of construction works, The Globe Theatre 2.0, now called Shakespeare’s Globe, officially opened its doors to the public, ready to host William Shakespeare’s plays again. Named in honour of the fundraiser, there’s an indoor theatre right next door, called the ‘Sam Wanamaker Playhouse’.
On we go…
… inside the globe, it was impressing once more. Of course, some concessions had to be made when rebuilding the open-air theatre. Such as fire extinguisher and emergency exits which apparently were not really a priority back then. Still, the interior too looked pretty convincing to us, made from English oak and as many traditional materials as possible. We sat down in the “wooden O”. The natural acoustic was amazing. You could hear the guide presenting all facts, sneaking in some occasional puns, perfectly fine – despite the rather large group. Telling us all about the materials, the layout, the paintings on the ceiling of the stage depicting the heavens, the balconies, the seating, and much more, we learnt all about the Elizabethan playhouse. In addition, the guide explained to us, what the audience back then looked like and how they differed from the rather classy theatregoers nowadays.
At the end…
Sadly, after the in-depth explanation about everything, even remotely important the site offers, it was time to come back to the present time. The tour ended in front of the indoor theatre and the gift shop. We couldn’t hesitate but buying a fun souvenir to bring back to the office. Also, peckish after all the exciting facts, we decided to treat ourselves to some A Midsummer Night’s Dream afternoon tea in the Swan Bar & Restaurant. Delicious!
Do you find Shakespeare and the Elizabethan age fascinating? And do you want to experience one of London’s most popular attractions? The whole Smartsave Team was absolutely delighted by the Guided Globe Tour and can only recommend paying it a visit. No matter if tourist or local – dive in the fascinating history of the old London, presented by an excellent expert guide. You might even get the chance to stay either for a traditional or a more modernised theatre performance of a Shakespeare play. To go or not to go to Shakespeare’s Globe is out of the question in our opinion.
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