Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre Guide: What to Know Before You Go
“All the world’s a stage”, especially when you’re at the Globe Theatre in London. A modern recreation of the original theatre where many of Shakespeare’s works were performed during his lifetime, Shakespeare’s Globe puts on a huge variety of the bard’s plays for visitors to enjoy in riverside surroundings that wouldn’t have been much different from 400 years ago. Imagine getting up close and getting lost in the magic that is Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and of course, Romeo and Juliet.
A bit of history before we tackle the essential questions: The Globe Theatre was originally built in 1599 and rapidly rose to become one of the most popular venues in London, attracting large crowds of people from all walks of life all eager to witness not only Shakespeare’s masterpieces but also the bear-baiting events, a brutal bloodsport popular at the time.
Boasting a capacity of up to 3,000 patrons (vs 1,570 people now), the theatre was divided into three levels of seating: the Lords’ Rooms, the Middle Gallery, and the standing area, known as the Groundlings. The Groundlings were where the lower-class spectators would watch, standing in front of the stage, and known for being rowdy and often interacting with the performers.
However, tragedy struck in 1613 when a fire destroyed the original Globe Theatre during a performance of Shakespeare’s ‘Henry VIII’. Although swiftly rebuilt the following year, it unfortunately was closed down by Puritans in 1642 and later torn down to make way for housing.
Fast forward to 1997, when an incredible reconstruction of the Globe Theatre opened its doors, a mere few hundred years from the original site, and reignited the spirit of Shakespearan drama for a new audience to enjoy.
Today, the Globe Theatre is primarily used for Shakespearean performances and educational programs. The theater hosts regular productions of Shakespeare’s plays during the summer months, as well as workshops, lectures, and tours throughout the year. Also inside the Globe compound is the indoor Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, modelled on the 16th century Blackfriars Theatre.
How to get to Shakespeare’s Globe?
Underground: The nearest underground stations are London Bridge on the Northern line (9-minute walk), Blackfriars on the District and Circle Lines (10-minute walk), Mansion House on the District and Circle Lines (a 10-minute walk), Southwark on the Jubilee Line (15-minute walk), and St. Paul’s on the Central Line (15-minute walk).
Train: The nearest train stations are Blackfriars (10-minute walk), London Bridge (15-minute walk), Cannon Street (20-minute walk), and Waterloo (25-minute walk).
Bus: Various local bus routes serve the area, including the 45, 63, and 100 (to Blackfriars Bridge); 11, 15, 17, and 26 (to Mansion House); 76 (to St. Paul’s Cathedral); and 344 (from Liverpool Street Station, towards Clapham, on Southwark Bridge Road) and 381, 344 (towards Liverpool Street Station, on Southwark Street).
Where is the entrance?
There are 2 entrances to the Globe Theatre. The main entrance is on the riverside New Globe Walk and is the easiest to find. The second entrance is located on Bear Gardens, which is on the opposite side of the theater, away from the river. The Bear Gardens entrance is generally less crowded and can be a good option if you are arriving late and want to avoid crowds.
What are the types of seats you can book
The Globe Theatre offers three types of seating arrangements:
The Yard: This is a standing area in front of the stage, known as the Groundlings Shakespeare’s time. It offers a lively, interactive experience, as the performers often walk through it, and is the cheapest ticket option. Make sure you’re prepared to stand though as it can be tiring, and also be prepared for rain or worse.
The Middle Gallery/Lower: This section is located on the middle level and offers seated views of the stage. It is a popular choice for those who want a good view of the performance without breaking the bank.
Upper Gallery: These are located in the gallery above the stage. In Shakespeare’s time, it was reserved for the wealthiest and most prestigious members of society. It offers the best view of the stage and is the most expensive ticket option.
For reference, the above view is from B Upper Gallery.
Cloakroom at the Globe
Yes, there is a cloakroom at the Globe Theatre. The cloakroom is located on the ground floor of the theater and is open to visitors during performances. You have to check your bags and coats in the cloakroom before entering the theater, as large bags are not allowed inside the auditorium.
How to get tickets
Tickets cost between £5 – £65 and the easiest and most convenient way to get tickets is through Shakespeare’s Globe official website.
Alternatively, The Globe Theatre also has a box office on-site, located at 21 New Globe Walk, London SE1 9DT. You can purchase tickets in person at the box office during its opening hours, which are typically from 10 am to 6 pm, Monday to Sunday.
Disabled facilities at the Globe
The theater has accessible seating areas for visitors with mobility impairments, which can be booked in advance. These seats are located in the front row of the Middle Gallery and have level access from the ground floor.