This post is probably only going to interest my London or close-by readers, but I still feel the need to announce it! Summer performances are coming to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre next month, and if you live around here (or are traveling here soon) and haven’t been to one yet, you need to go!
We have been to the theater quite a few times in London, even to a couple shows in the nicest theaters in the West End, but none of them, not a single one, came close to being as memorable as seeing a Shakespearean play performed at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. We went for the first time during last year’s summer season and saw Romeo & Juliet. I’d been waiting for that one to show up on the Globe’s schedule since we arrived here, and it did not disappoint. Just being in the reconstructed Globe Theatre (just a few feet away from where the original once stood) was an experience in and of itself, but watching my favorite of Shakespeare’s plays performed as it would have been for those watching it back in the 1600’s took it to a whole different level!
At Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, in the absence of elaborate sets and costumes, the focus is all on the acting. And the actors are amazing! They often play multiple parts and are very skilled at improvising when something unexpected happens, like a bird flying onto the stage mid-monologue. (Open-air theater – it happens!) Although I’m sure the performances are meticulously rehearsed, nothing about the play or our experience here felt formal at all. It was like we were being performed for as friends, not spectators. I really cannot sing the praises of seeing something (anything!) at Shakespeare’s Globe loudly enough. If you have even the remotest interest in theater, this needs to be on your to-do list in London.
This year’s summer schedule is already posted on the Globe Theatre website and tickets are available for purchase, but performances will not begin until the end of April. A quick look at the listed performances shows some pretty major plays coming up – Macbeth, Hamlet, A Midsummer’s Night Dream, and The Taming Of The Shrew to name a few. Overall, we had a really good experience when we went to see Romeo & Juliet last May, but I’ve included a few tips below that probably would have made our visit a bit more comfortable if we’d known about them beforehand!
9 Tips for Visiting Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
1. Tickets for seats sell out fast, so don’t wait! I booked our tickets on the first day they were available to the public and we still couldn’t get three seats next to each other. That probably had a lot to do with the popularity of Romeo & Juliet and that we were booking for a weekend performance, but you’ll still have the best luck finding good seats if you book as early as you can!
2. Choose a daytime performance if your show is early in the season. It gets cold at night in London, even in May and early June, so for the most comfortable viewing experience, choose a daytime showing if you’re booking during the earliest part of the summer season!
3. If you have to go at night in April or May, dress appropriately. Look closely and you’ll see I’m wearing a pair of leggings underneath my jeans in the photo above! We went on an evening in May and it was freezing outside. I was dressed in my warmest coat, hat, gloves, and scarf and I was still shivering for most of the last hour of the show. Worth it, of course, but a nighttime performance in July or August would have been much more comfortable!
4. Choose standing tickets only if you are prepared to lose all feeling in your legs. I’m kidding, of course, but shows at Shakespeare’s Globe often run as long as three hours, so keep that in mind. Standing tickets are the cheapest for a reason! Although, they do have the best view of the stage, so if you’re young and strong, perhaps they’re worth it?!
5. Get in the front row of the middle gallery for the best seats. Besides the standing room just below the stage, there are three different galleries of seats to choose from at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. In my opinion, the best is the middle gallery – sitting here, you’re not so high above the stage that you’re looking at the top of the actors’ heads, but you’re also not so low that you’ve got the people in the standing area blocking your view. If you get in the front row of this gallery, you’ll also have the bar in front of you to lean forward onto. (Nice if sitting for three hours causes you as much back pain as it does me!)
6. Pay extra for a seat cushion. Speaking of pain from sitting too long. Reserve a cushion when you order your tickets online and save your back and rear end from the cruel and unusual punishment that is sitting on something akin to high school gymnasium bleachers after the age of 30. (Just me?) If you forget to reserve online, extras will be available to hire when you arrive at the theater.
7. Shows run rain or shine. Something else to think about if you’re considering a standing ticket. The seats in the galleries are covered, but if you’re in the standing area you’re going to get drenched if a rainstorm comes through.
8. Don’t take photos during the performances. It’s not allowed and there are people watching to make sure you don’t. Photos are allowed before, after, and during intermission. (I didn’t even bother taking my camera which is why the photos in this post are all grainy iPhone-quality shots!)
9. Mark your calendar to return next year and see something else. Because you’re definitely going to want to!
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