Shakespeare's Globe is an Elizabethan playhouse on the south bank of the
River Thames. It is a reconstruction of the original Globe Theatre that was
built in 1599 by Shakespeare's playing company, the Lord Chamberlain's Men,
and it stands a few hundred yards from its original site.
The original theater was destroyed by fire in 1613 caused by a cannon used
in a performance of Henry VIII. After being quickly rebuilt, it was then closed
in 1642, due to pressure from Puritans, before being demolished in 1644.
The new Shakespeare's Globe Theatre was founded by Sam Wanamaker (US actor
and director) and opened in 1997. The reconstruction was researched in detail
to ensure the new building was as similar as possible to the original. No
structural steel was used and the theater has the only thatched roof allowed in
London since the
Great Fire of 1666.
Like the original, the theater has a thrust stage sticking out into a large
circular yard which is surrounded by three levels of seating. The stage and
seats are covered, but the yard is not. All performances attempt to replicate
the atmosphere of the original Globe by not using spotlights (only interior
floodlights for evening performances), microphones, speakers, or amplification.
All music is live and musicians use period instruments. The audience either
stands in the yard or sits on simple benches (though cushions can be hired).
Today, Shakespeare’s Globe stages plays through the summer (between April
and October). With seating for 857 and an additional 700 standing places for
„groundlings“ in the yard, it’s hard to imagine that this would be about
half the size of an audience in Shakespeare’s day!
While visiting, don't miss the available exhibition which takes you on a
journey into the life of Shakespeare, the theater he wrote for, and the London
he lived in.
The Globe is best accessed on foot via the lovely footpaths along the river
from Waterloo and from Southwark Bridge. The Millennium Footbridge is just
50 meters away. The closest Underground stations are all a 10–15 minute walk
away; Blackfriars and Mansion House (District and Circle Lines), London Bridge
(Northern and Jubilee Lines), Southwark (Jubilee Line), and St Paul's (Central
Line). Blackfriars and London Bridge are also major train stations, as are
nearby Cannon Street and Waterloo. Local bus routes include numbers 45, 63 and
100 to Blackfriars Bridge, 15 and 17 to Cannon Street, 11, 15, 17, 23,
26 and 76 to Mansion House, the 381 and RV1 to Southwark Street, and the
344 to Southwark Bridge Road.
The theater and exhibition have separate entrances. There is special access
for wheelchair users. Photos are allowed unless there are rehearsals in
progress, but videos are not allowed on the tour, which guides you through the
theater (come early to avoid crowds). These are in English, but information is
also available in other languages. There is a little souvenir shop and the Swan
at the Globe has a bar and restaurant.
Mon - Sat: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. (5:30 p.m. for the exhibition)
Sun: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Senior (60+): £12.00
Student (with valid ID): £11.00
Children (5-15): £8.00
Children (under 5): Free
Phone: +44 20 7902 1400