Summer’s here and London has never looked better! The sun, the longer days, the fresh air… feeling more active and hungrier for adventures is inevitable. Especially if we’re full-time workers with only a day or two per week for ourselves. Moreover, London never really stops. Events, theatre seasons, festivals and concerts are always up and running throughout the hottest months of the year! So, why not take advantage of the wonderful weather and try something new on your day off?
Among the innumerable options offered by the city, Shakespeare’s Globe can be an often overlooked one. ‘What? Shakespeare? On my day off? NEVER!’, I can already hear you mumble, but this is exactly why the Globe is worth a try and will most definitely surprise you. Every year – unlike the other theatres – the (roofless) venue opens its season in April, proposing a combination of Shakespearean plays, as well as new contemporary texts performed all the way up to October. The building itself is a real feast for the eyes, having been rebuilt exactly as the original Elizabethan theatre looked like. The area surrounding the site is also great. South Bank, with its pubs, museums and street artists all gathered down by the riverside, is always full of life! Oh, and I almost forgot to tell you the best part: The Globe is also student-friendly, with tickets starting from £5,00!
But what can we expect, exactly, from a trip to the Globe?
In the past few years, audiences have had the opportunity to witness all sorts of theatrical experiments at the Globe. A very punk rock Romeo and Juliet with black, heavy makeup and striped socks. Gender bent versions of Twelfth Night (a play well known for the theme of cross-dressing presented in it!) and Hamlet (with Michelle Terry, the artistic director of the Globe herself, playing the legendary title role); and, finally, The Shakespeare’s Globe Touring Ensemble’s Audience Choice. A special event in which the actors let the audience choose the play the company will perform on the night. These crazy thespians…
But there’s more! Throughout the whole year, the Globe offers events, festivals (Women and Power and Poland is Hamlet are only two of the most recent ones) and guided tours of the theatre and its museum, where you can find out more about the history of the place. You can walk around the empty Globe, take photos (unlike during performances: we don’t want to distract the actors!) and enjoy the bottomless wisdom and humour of the tour guides. They’re always extremely funny and up for a Shakespearean joke!
This year, the Globe presents a series of comedies and history plays, including Henry IV Part One and Part Two, Henry V, The Merry Wives of Windsor, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It (returning from its successful 2018 run) and Ben Johnson’s Bartholomew Fair. The Shakespeare’s Globe Touring Ensemble, instead, is bringing their new Audience Choice all over the UK. They’ll be performing a play out of The Comedy of Errors, Pericles and Twelfth Night according to the audience’s vote. As well as keeping up with the gender bending experiments, all these plays wish to explore themes of refuge and displacement, offering interesting new perspectives on current issues.
If you’re not necessarily looking for a performance of a Shakespearean play, the Globe organises a series of different events throughout the summer such as Read Not Dead, a celebration of texts about the legendary English outlaw, Robin Hood (the actors receive the script on the same morning as the performance, which will therefore consist of a very raw interpretation!), panel discussions and workshops.
‘So, what about the rest of the year? What happens at the Globe once the summer season is over?’, you may be asking. The answer is: more theatre! From October to April, all the performances and events are moved to the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, the indoor venue of the theatre. The playhouse also resembles a traditional Elizabethan space, presenting a similar structure to the Globe (only witha roof!).
Over the winter, the theatre keeps up with its selection of both Shakespearean and other plays. Last winter, the candle lit venue presented a production of Macbeth – the perfect choice for the darkest time of the year – and Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, a play about dark magic, sin and the human soul. Other events, panel discussions and workshops are also available throughout the whole year. One thing is certain: no matter what, the Globe is always carrying on its experimentalism and ambitions. Including a less hierarchical approach to the work and a theatre that moves away from literal casting.
What are you waiting for? There are simply noexcuses not to give the Globe a try: you won’t regret it! To recap:
- A new, modern and more relatable approach to the Bard
- Alternative experiences
- Various events for everyone
- Great location
- Student-friendly: as mentioned before, the standing (like a real Elizabethan or ‘Groundling’ would do it!) tickets are £5.00 while all the others start from £20.00!
That’s it: The Globe is the best place ever. Now you just need to gather some friends, pick a show and enjoy a pint while having a walk down the river afterwards! Oh, one last thing: don’t forget to check the forecast! A roofless theatre can have its disadvantages!
By Chiara Scoglio