This is a preview of London’s new theatre, the indoor Globe, which opens in 2014 when for the first time we will have an all-weather London venue dedicated to Shakespeare productions.
Like it’s outdoor neighbour, the indoor Globe will be Jacobean in style and atmosphere and the stage will be largely lit with 100 candles. This is a revolutionary return to a practice which died out in the 18th century when kerosine lamps were introduced.
The aim is to create: ‘a theatre that Shakespeare might recognise; a space that the plays will find a natural home in’ according to the Globe’s Architecture Research Group, led by Dr Farah Karim-Cooper.
There will be an intimate atmosphere with just 350 seats, two tiers of balcony seating and a pit of 60 in front of an oak panelled stage where the actors all enter and leave at the rear, allowing seats on the left and right of the stage, very close to the actors. It is hoped that there will be some 30 standing tickets with prices as low as £10, in keeping in the Globe philosophy.
The new theatre sits right next door to the existing Globe theatre which is an outdoor affair whose season runs from April to September. Its founder, American visionary Sam Wanamaker, wanted to encourage all theatre lovers and standing tickets cost just £5.
Though the ‘groundlings’ get the best view of the stage and are frequently caught up in the action as the actors come among them or address them, they must endure the risks of rain, sunstroke and passing seagulls.
The new indoor theatre will thus extend the Globe season year round helping to meet the demand for these popular productions. Right now, Stephen Fry and Mark Rylance are starring in critically acclaimed runs of Twelfth Night and Richard III at the Apollo Theatre (Shaftsbury Avenue, London) which has been specially adapted to look like an Elizabethan stage for this short run.
The Jacobean style theatre was something of a mystery until the late 1960s when a drawing fell out of a book in the library of Worcester College, Oxford, and this has inspired the design.
The Globe team are currently raising the last £1 million of finance needed to complete the £7.5m project which has not received any public subsidy, in line with the Globe’s philosophy. The theatre will be housed inside an existing shell which is currently used for rehearsals.
The cover picture is a computer generated image of the new theatre showing the traditional Elizabethan ‘standings’ which are audience areas at the side of the stage.
Below exterior: Photo: Nick Robins