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Shakespeare’s Globe is a wonderful day out for any family passionate about the theatre and its rich history. This London theatre, museum and replica of the original Globe Theatre, where world-famous playwright William Shakespeare’s plays were originally performed, is bound to capture the imagination of your kids, who will love immersing themselves in the exciting world of Elizabethan England.
The story behind the Globe Theatre is fascinating, and kids will love learning all about it! The original theatre opened in 1599 after a rent dispute meant another theatre was deconstructed. The timber from this theatre was moved to Southwark along London's South Bank, which is home to tons of other top London attractions. Several actors, and Shakespeare himself, agreed to become shareholders, and the now-iconic Globe Theatre was born. The theatre was a circular open-air theatre with a thatched roof, built in a style inspired by classical amphitheatres, and the first play performed was Julius Caesar. Extremely popular with audiences at the time, the Globe Theatre was a place where all the different classes in Elizabethan society would come together; from the groundlings who would stand for hours to watch Shakespeare’s works of art, to the upper classes who could watch while seated on the tiered benches of this open-air theatre.
This original Globe Theatre eventually burned down in 1613 when cannons with gunpowder on them were fired for dramatic effect during a performance of Henry VIII. The theatre was destroyed, and while no one was injured, rumour has it a man’s trousers were set on fire but were extinguished with a bottle of beer! The Globe Theatre was soon rebuilt, this time with a more costly tiled roof, but was shut down in 1642 after the Puritans declared that all London theatres had to close because people were having too much fun there.
The Globe we know today is a modern rebuilding of Shakespeare’s original theatre(s!) and is located 230m from the building’s original foundations. It is located along the South Bank in London. Today’s Globe opened in 1997 after an American actor named Samuel Wanamaker founded the Shakespeare Globe Playhouse Trust with the aim of reconstructing the building. This wonderful building was constructed out of wood just like the original theatre and has a remade Elizabethan thatched roof, giving it an authentic feel.
There are plenty of different activities that families and kids will love at Shakespeare's Globe. Plays in the 340-seat amphitheatre regularly run from April to October and provide an incredible opportunity for your kids to watch Shakespeare plays performed in their original style. These are some of the best plays in London, and you can even stand in the pit at the bottom of the theatre for an authentic Elizabethan experience. Past performances have included lesser-known comedies like 'The Merry Wives of Windsor', the famous fairy tale-inspired 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream' and the tragic 'Hamlet'. Younger children will love the buzzing atmosphere of this Elizabethan-inspired theatre, and watching a Shakespeare play performed in front of you is a great way to engage school-age children and older teens and tweens in their studies. Plays are also held at the Sam Wanamaker playhouse, which is an indoor Jacobean-style theatre at the Globe built in 2014.
Families will also love theatre's fun and informative guided tours, which include a family tour that is specially designed for children. Led by the Globe’s very own actors, this fascinating tour will guide you around the playhouse’s auditorium, while also providing access to the Shakespeare Exhibition. This gives parents and children alike the unique opportunity to discover the fascinating world of Elizabethan England and the theatre, in addition to an exclusive look at the props and costumes used in today’s performances.
The Shakespeare Exhibition itself features many engaging kids' activities, including a Shakespearean word jungle, and a thrilling mock sword-fighting display that will captivate any child.
Fun and interactive family workshops also take place at the Globe. Each summer, the Globe holds Telling Tales, an annual storytelling festival for families, which offers engaging workshops, storytelling and a chance to meet different children’s authors; perfect for your little thespian. During school holidays, workshops for school-age kids are held, which incorporate dancing and drama games and provide the ideal day out for enthusiastic kids who love to act and learn. Meanwhile, special workshops are also run for children aged 12 and over. These workshops are based on all the different works of Shakespeare and have included 'As You Like It' and the magical 'The Tempest' in the past and make for an experience that is both educational and enjoyable for children of all ages.
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