Day 9, Monday, July 2, 2018
Next we wandered over to the Globe Theatre. The Globe is a replica of the original theatre that was built in 1599 by Shakespeare’s theatrical company. It opened in 1997 only 750 feet from the location of the original theatre, and is as historically accurate as they could make it, accounting for the fact that they only have incomplete information about what the original theatre looked like, and of course, modern building codes. They had to get a special exception to top the open-air theatre with a thatched roof. The theatre once again features Shakespeare’s plays, and you can either get a seat in the gallery, a box seat, or one of the “cheap seats,” in the standing room only section.
The original Globe Theatre was only standing from 1599 to 1613, when it was destroyed by fire. A second version was built in 1614 and was dismantled after a City ordinance in 1642 banned theatres because of the “inappropriate” content in plays. It was the Puritans, you know…
We went on the tour of the theatre, and had a bit of time before our tour to check out the exhibits below the theatre. They have an exhibit on the recreation of the theatre, and the research that went into creating a theatre that was as close as possible to the original. They also had several artifacts on display that were unearthed from the original theatre, where a partial excavation was done in the late 1980s. There were also a number of costumes and set display items from the various plays that have been put on at the new Globe Theatre, as well as costumes from Hollywood versions of Shakespeare’s plays.
The tour explained how the theatre would have worked back in the 1600s. First of all, women wouldn’t be there, neither as actors nor as spectators. It was not considered acceptable for women to go to the theatre, which was essentially located in the red light district of London. Additionally, the place would have stank to high heaven! Bathing wasn’t much of a thing back then, and there weren’t any restrooms in the theatre. If you had to go to the bathroom, there were buckets. When you consider that the men watching the show would likely have been drinking a lot of beer, and the buckets were probably getting knocked over by drunk men, ewww… There was a reason the people in the standing area in front of the stage were called Penny Stinkers. That area cost a penny. Only the rich men could afford the box seats.
After our theatre tour, we headed back over to the Borough Market to get lunch. We all split up and checked out the options; I wanted to try something English, so I looked around and settled on a Scotch Egg. If you don’t know what a Scotch Egg is, here’s the scoop. It is a soft boiled egg, wrapped in sausage meat (you can skip the sausage if you are vegetarian) and then wrapped in bread crumbs and deep fried. Oh my, it was sooo delicious! My egg came with some salad greens and I bought a Ceylon Earl Grey iced tea to round out my meal. Street food at it’s finest! We found a spot on a curb to sit and eat our lunch, and spent some time people watching. A nice break in the middle of the day!
Costs: Globe Theatre – 17 pounds (free with London Pass), lunch at the Borough Market