In 1613, one spark from a cannon started a fire that burned William Shakespeare’s Globe theatre to the ground. Now, over 400 years later, people from around the world flock to London’s replica of the famous Elizabethan theatre to experience what it was like to watch Shakespeare’s plays back in the day.
I have been fortunate enough to see three performances on The Globe’s stage since I have been in London: As You Like It, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and The Merry Wives of Windsor. These shows were unlike any other play I have ever attended. First off, a ticket to stand in the yard is only £5. That’s right. The “seat” closest to the stage is the cheapest in the whole house. Yes, you do have to stand for the entirety of the three-hour performances, but it is WORTH IT. Which brings me to my next point…
If you ever go see a comedy at The Globe, do not be surprised if the actors mess with you when you stand in the yard. At all three plays, the audience participated in the story. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream an audience member even played a character! At The Merry Wives of Windsor, actors playing servants walked through the Yard, talking to patrons as if we were in a courtyard in Windsor. Once the play began, one of the actors spat beer at my friend and me, and dumped a shoe full of water on us as well. Talk about interacting with your audience!
But there’s more than just Shakespeare at The Globe. Tonight I saw Deep Nights in the candlelit Sam Wanamaker theater. As I walked into the theater, the smell of wood and wax brought cozy joy bubbling up in my chest. The chandeliers dripped wax onto the stage. The ghost stories were much, much creepier with the low light and flames flickering across the audience’s faces. During one story, the actors blew out all but one candle. When the storyteller plunged the theatre into darkness with one swift breath, I clutched my face and covered my eyes, trying to hide from the shadows lurking among us. I was thoroughly terrified, but it was so worth it. It isn’t common nowadays to light performances using only candle. But, based on my experience at Deep Nights, I can only hope that this wasn’t the last time I will be able to experience the magic of candlelight onstage.
The Globe has grown to have a special place in my heart. I know that when I finish with my program in London, the memories I’ve made at the Globe will be some of my favorite.