Do you know the Globe? Shakespeare's reconstructed Globe theatre, on the south bank of the Thames, nestling between London Bridge and the Tate Modern. Look at it from the river, and at first sight it seems totally out of place, with the multi-laned city traffic to the left and the towering chimney of the renovated gallery to the right. But look from the south bank in the direction of St Paul's, and try to think back in time a little, and suddenly it is the twentieth-century traffic and chimney which are out of place. The Globe seems as if it might have been there for centuries.
And in a sense it was. For the first Globe was built in 1599 very close to where the current building stands. We know this because there are several printed panoramic views of London, dating from around 1600, which show the theatre among the buildings of Southwark. The original site is now largely buried under the foundations of modern apartments, 200 yards away, but what is 200 yards when you are trying to achieve a vision? And that is what the reconstructed Globe is – a vision.
The vision belonged to American actor, director, and producer Sam Wanamaker, who conceived the project after his first visit to London, as long ago as 1949. In 1970 he formed the Globe Playhouse Trust dedicated to the reconstruction of the theatre and the provision of education and exhibition facilities.
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