During a summer AP English course with Mr. Stamford (my favorite high school teacher), I encountered my love of Shakespeare. Though I had read Romeo and Juliet earlier in my schooling, it wasn’t until encountering Mr. Stamford and his amazing method of teaching that I fell in love with Shakespeare and his plays. Since then, I’ve loved watching movies based on Shakespeare plays but have had little opportunity to see them live on stage. When we moved to England and I learned about the famous reconstruction of the Globe theater, I knew that would have to change. Last Saturday we finally got that chance as our base and ITT gave us an opportunity to see “A Midsummers Night’s Dream” at Shakespeare’s Globe Theater.
Modern in construction with glass doors and high ceilings, the entrance of Shakespeare’s Globe theater doesn’t look much different than any other modern theaters but past the gift shop, the bar and the bathrooms, another set of glass doors transports you back in time. Reconstructed only 750 feet from the original site and using surviving documentation of the original Globe theaters (the first built in 1599, destroyed by fire and the second built in 1614 and demolished in 1644), Shakespeare’s Globe is an amazing approximation of the originals. Built with wooden framing as it would have been 400 years ago, the theater has no metal interiors. It boasts the first and only thatched roof allowed in London since the great fire of 1666. Though it has some modern technologies for safety, Shakespeare’s Globe truly is as close to the original as possible. Even the plays themselves are mostly produced as they would have been in the 1600s without microphones or spotlights, and using live musicians to add music to the performances.
Due to safety restrictions, only half as many people are able to attend plays in the modern globe as the original, but honestly I couldn’t imagine any more people in that theater. I was nearly touching every person around me in the seats and I wasn’t wearing nearly as much clothing as they would have worn back then. How did they all fit?! Though we were all packed tightly on our wooden bench seats, with the midsummer air thick with humidity and (true to the original) non opening windows behind us offering no ventilation, I was still grateful to at least have a seat. In addition to just not having to stand for three hours, seats boast a covering should the unpredictable London skies decide to pour down rain. Like in centuries past, the groundlings at our production paid the cheapest prices to stand for the entire play in the center pit on a concrete floor (better than the original earth one I think). Unprotected by a roof and unable to raise an umbrella during a performance, if you’re a groundling, you better be prepared for all types of weather. It may be worth it to some, though, to see some of London’s greatest actors portraying some of the best plays in the world, for less than the cost of a Starbucks coffee.
The production itself was phenomenal with modern twists on my favorite of Shakespeare’s plays. They even added a few songs which I thought was interesting and quite entertaining. The costumes weren’t my favorite as I’m a traditionalist when it comes to that, but I can appreciate their creativity in the design. Overall, I much prefer his comedies to his tragedies and I was happy to sit and laugh with friends as the phenomenal actors brought the characters to life.
We shall return to Shakespeare’s Globe next month with my dad to see a production of Twelfth Night, his favorite play. I’m excited to share this experience with him as he’s always fostered my love for the theater. I’ll write more of that experience next time, but for now, it’s off to prepare for our next trip. Follow us on instagram (@fernwehfindings) for daily updates on where in the world we are.