Shakespeare’s theater to get indoor venue

Associated Press


Shakespeare’s Globe, the open-air London playhouse that helped win modern audiences over to all-weather outdoor theatergoing, is embracing the great indoors.

The Globe on Tuesday unveiled details of a new indoor venue that will sit alongside the O-shaped Elizabethan-style theater on the banks of the River Thames.

Built from 17th-century plans, it will allow audiences to remain warm and dry as they watch candlelit performances of plays by the Bard and his successors — and, its creators hope, cast those classic plays in a new light.

“We’re hoping it will prove as great a revelation as this building has,” said Globe artistic director Dominic Dromgoole, referring to the open-air theater that opened in 1997. “In the simplest terms, it’s called going back to the future.”

The Sam Wanamaker Theatre — named for the late American actor-director who spent decades realizing his dream of rebuilding Shakespeare’s playhouse near its original site — is due to open in January 2014, and will allow the Globe to hold performances year-round for the first time.

Modeled loosely on the long-vanished Blackfriars playhouse where Shakespeare’s company, the King’s Men, performed in winter, the timber-framed space will hold 350 people, in seated galleries and a standing-room pit.

Dromgoole said that in true 17th-century style, it would feature “a lot of people packed tight into a very small space — bulging with humanity.”

In another nod to authenticity, the oak-framed, wood-paneled theater will be lit by candles, no small achievement in our safety-conscious times.

The new venue is being built based on drawings found at Oxford University’s Worcester College in the 1960s — the earliest surviving plans for an indoor theater. No theaters from that era survive, and many questions remain about how they were constructed.