Last Friday I had the pleasure of visiting the Globe Theatre in London for the first time. I saw a splendid production of Macbeth. What impressed me even more was the theatre itself.
The original Globe Theatre, built by the Theatre acting company to which William Shakespeare belonged, opened in 1599. In 1613, it burnt to the ground during a performance of Shakespeare's Henry VIII. The fire was attributed to a theatrical cannon, which misfired and set the thatched roof and wooden timbers aflame. The new Globe Theatre, built according to Elizabethan plans, is the brainchild of American actor and director Sam Wanamaker. Similar to the original, the stage of the new Globe Theatre extends into a large circular yard, which is surrounded by three tiers of very steep seating. The most expensive seats are covered. All others are exposed, which is why plays are held here only during the summer months. Additional standing room for about 700 is available at a very low cost (I paid 5 Pounds) for those who don't mind remaining erect during the entire production. In total, the theatre can accommodate about 1,300 patrons, less than half of the 3,000 or so who could attend productions during Shakespeare's time. I assure you, the experience is a time travel back into the early 17th century.