In the second week of classes, my class visited the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre along the Southbank of London. For those of you who do not know, this is only a replica of the original, standing only feet away from where the original stood. The only photo I have is this one I took from a boat tour I went on; there was no photography allowed in the theatre itself.
What is most remarkable about this landmark is the process the construction, or should I say reconstruction, underwent to make sure it was as close to the original as possible. The architects wanted those who visit the Globe in modern day to have the same experience as those of the 17th century. With that said, the entire thing is made of wood, has narrow seats, and a thatch roof, even though the thatched roof is what made catch fire, forcing Shakespeare into retirement. You will not find any nails holding the structure together; it is all wooden pegs as Shakespeare’s construction workers used. Also, within the cement in between the bricks, there is a mixture of moss and horsehair that were also popular in construction during the time the original was built.
In case you are wondering, they do still hold performances here; it does not merely stand as a tourist’s maze. In fact, while we were there we got to witness a cast rehearsing for their version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream to be performed in front of school aged children. Also in the fashion of Shakespeare’s time, there is room for groundlings to stand and enjoy a play. During Shakespeare’s time, these would have been the people of lower class, who paid only a few pence to enjoy one of his productions—usually drunk. These are still the cheap “seats” if you want to go and enjoy a production at the globe.
This season, in light of the Olympic Games being held here, they are actually going to be performing a bunch of Shakespearean plays in the languages of all the countries represented. I wish I could go see a production, but I figure no point if you don’t know what they are saying. After all, Shakespeare always wrote to be heard, not necessarily seen. Visit the Globe if you’re even in town. If that isn’t your thing, there is plenty on the bank for you to enjoy; the water itself is beautiful.