All the World’s a Stage

All the World’s a Stage

I will admit it: I am a Shakespeare geek. Have been ever since about 8th grade when I first read Romeo and Juliet. Attending a play at Shakespeare’s Globe on my fist trip to London was a no-brainer. Of course we were! (Props to my husband who is not a fan of the Bard but indulged me anyway.)

I bought tickets to see The Tempest. My guidebook said that the best view of the stage would be tickets in the standing section. It’s an open pit at the bottom of the stage with no seats. The key advantage was that you could get so close to the stage you could see every bead of sweat on the actors’ brows. The key disadvantage was that you had to stand for the duration of the play (over two hours). For a tourist who has been on her feet and walking everywhere for a week, this was a significant downer.

But I digress. Shakespeare’s Globe was a labor of love for Sam Wanamaker, who started the work of trying to build a faithful reproduction of the original Globe Theatre back in 1970. After exhaustive research and twenty-plus years of people saying it couldn’t be done, Shakespeare’s Globe opened in 1997.

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As I said, we saw The Tempest when we went. Vanessa Redgrave starred as Prospero. You may be able to make her out in  this (admittedly poor quality) photo. She’s the one in the long burgundy-colored coat.

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Almost as entertaining as the play was the beautiful way the theatre had been painted. Flat walls were transformed into masterful works of masonry. Columns were made to look like they were made of marble.

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The ceiling over the stage (for there is no roof on the center part of the theatre; it is authentically open air) was decorated with a scene of sun and celestial beings. The details were magnificent.

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Shakespeare’s Globe is located at 21 New Globe Walk, London SE1 9DT.  Telephone +44 20 7902 1400. The theatre is open 9:00 to 5:00 daily with exhibitions and tours.  As it is a working theatre, however, those may not be available.  It is advisable to check the web site or call ahead before planning your visit.

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