Lanterns! Candles! Shakespeare for Jacobeans

 
August 5, 2011
A new Jacobean-style theatre, built next to Shakespeare's restored Globe alongside the River Thames, will be lit by candle and lantern and feature something the Bard would have loved -- a roof.

The replica of an indoor theatre based on 17th century designs -- the earliest in existence -- will be housed on the same site as the Globe, in a building similar to the old Blackfriars theatre, another Elizabethan playhouse, Shakespeare's Globe said in a statement.

Playwright William Shakespeare reached maturity as a dramatist during the latter part of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and that of her successor King James I, for whom the period Jacobean is named.

The new theatre will be the most complete recreation of a Shakespearean indoor theatre yet, and complement one of the most atmospheric and historic stages in London.

"The faithful recreation of the Globe 14 years ago revolutionised people's ideas of what a theatre can, could and should be," Artistic Director Dominic Dromgoole said on the theatre's website. "The recreation of an indoor Jacobean theatre, the closest simulacrum of Shakespeare's own Blackfriars that we can achieve, will have the same effect, and will prove a revelation of equal magnitude."

Performances will be relatively intimate, as the new theatre, which is smaller than its open-air counterpart, will seat around 320 people. In order to recreate the experience of 17th century theatre, some of the plays will be lit by candle and lantern light.

While the original Globe was home to many of Shakespeare's best known plays, later works, such as "The Tempest," "Cymbeline" and "The Winter's Tale" were written for an entirely different space to the outdoor Elizabethan playhouses.

These productions were written to be performed in the newly designed indoor theatres and allowed playwrights to be increasingly imaginative.

The current Shakespeare's Globe, which sits on the south bank of the River Thames in London, is a reconstruction of the Globe Theatre built in 1599, and provides cover only over its seated section. The standing section, or the "pit," remains at the mercy of summer showers.

The design of the new theatre is inspired by two drawings for an indoor theatre, made in 1616, found in the archives of Worcester College Library, Oxford University. They are believed to be the work of John Webb, protégé to the architect Inigo Jones, and were discovered in the 1960s.

Shakespeare's Globe said it had appointed London-based architects Allies & Morrison to lead the project which will cost 8 million pounds.

"It's an absolute thrill to take on the challenge of creating a new space that Shakespeare would have recognised, the kind of theatre for which he wrote his last plays including the Tempest," Allies & Morrison partner Paul Appleton told the Guardian this week.

The original Globe burnt to the ground in 1613 as a result of cannon fire during the staging of a play which has come to be known as "Henry VIII" and was rebuilt in the late 1990s after a sustained campaign by American actor and director Sam Wanamaker.

Shakespeare's Globe (www.shakespearesglobe.com) runs a theatre season from April to October putting on productions of Shakespeare's works and conducts year-round tours of the theatre, but also houses a library, an exhibition and promotes the study of Shakespeare.

This next addition to the Shakespeare's Globe site is still fundraising but is due to open for the winter season in 2013.



Lanterns! Candles! Shakespeare for Jacobeans

By James Browning - Reuters