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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Happy Birthday to Shakespeare's Globe Theatre!

On 12 June 1997, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip officially opened Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre opened on Bankside.

There had been no Globe Theatre since 1644, when it was torn down during the English Civil War.

Sketch of the original Globe

The creation of a new Globe was the dream of American actor and director Sam Wanamaker, whose daughter is actress Zoe Wanamaker. 

In 1970, he created the Shakespeare Globe Trust to raise funds and support for a new Globe.

Work began in 1991 and by 1997 the work site became a working theatre, with Henry V and The Winter’s Tale playing by May 1997.

Mark Rylance was the first artistic director of the Globe, and played Henry V in those first performances.

Here is a link to see some pictures of that performance.

The theatre itself is not on the exact same site where the Globe was in Shakespeare’s day. It is about 200 yards away. It is not the exact same size as the original, nor does it accomodate as many people.

But when it opened in 1997 it was true to the spirit and memory of the theatre in which Shakespeare performed some of his greatest plays -- Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Macbeth and many more.

210,000 people watched plays within the walls of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in that first year of 1997, and by now there must be millions who have seen plays there.

Sadly, Mr. Wanamaker died in 1993, before the theatre was completed. But I am sure that he was very happy that what was once a dream was well on its way to becoming a reality.

Sam Wanamaker

We should be very grateful to him and to all of those people who shared his vision of building a new home for Shakespeare on Bankside.

I hope you join me in wishing a very Happy Birthday to Shakespeare's Globe Theatre!


David B. Schajer

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