Category: london

VAULT Festival was created in 2012 around a …

VAULT Festival was created in 2012 around a triangle of the audience, the artists, and the staff. With contributions from Silent Opera, future Fringe First-winners Katie Bonna & Richard Marsh and several others, an exciting artist-led programme began to emerge, playing to 7,500 people.

It is London’s biggest arts festival, and from January 24th, hundreds of new shows, events and performances will explode across our Waterloo home.

Eight undiluted weeks of entertainment for London. From top notch comedy to thrilling drama, from table-top stomping music to an eye-popping film selection.

Check out what’s on here:

When the audience become diners in the ‘Faulty…

When the audience become diners in the ‘Faulty Towers’ restaurant, pretty much anything can happen – because two-thirds of the show is improvised. The fun starts as guests wait to be seated. It then hurtles along in a 2-hour tour de force of gags and shambolic service as Basil, Sybil and Manuel serve a ‘70s-style 3-course meal together with a good dollop of mayhem. Expect the unexpected!

Internationally acclaimed, the show was born in Brisbane in 1997 as a loving tribute to the BBC’s best-loved sitcom. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world have seen it since. Today, ten teams of cast working from England and Australia tour around 20 countries a year. The show is also into its fifth year in London’s West End, where it holds TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence for three years running.

‘Faulty Towers the Dining Experience will feed your need for world-class comedy, nourish your soul with howling laughter and have you begging the hotel staff to extend your stay.’ Perth Now, Fringe World 2016

‘5* rollercoaster entertainment’ Broadway Baby, Edinburgh Fringe 2015

* Faulty Towers The Dining Experience is a loving tribute to Fawlty Towers the TV series written by John Cleese and Connie Booth. Their original TV scripts are not used in Faulty Towers The Dining Experience.

Get your tickets here:

Our Home: A History of Bankside, LondonTour Guide and Exhibition…

Our Home: A History of Bankside, London

Tour Guide and Exhibition Assistant Jon Kaneko-James explores what the area of Bankside would have been like in Shakespeare’s time.

The Globe is a work of beautiful and almost impossible dedication, the result of a mission to reconstruct the best possible version of a timber-framed 16th century amphitheatre and to explore what that building would do to and for performance. Built with the time and money of a dedicated group of supporters, it sits framed by trees next to Tate Modern. 

The area has moved on around it. Just as the King’s Pike Garden became warehouses which became Shakespeare’s Globe, the Victorian buildings of the Bankside have become bars and eateries. New buildings replaced old. Breweries became apartment buildings.

However, for a few decades in the 16th and 17th centuries, The Bankside – a handful of streets between what is now London Bridge and Blackfriars Bridge – was alive with a strange mixture of industry and entertainment. 

From the start, Bankside was where London put things it needed, but didn’t want. The city might have been covered in a perpetual pall of smoke, but there were things that even Londoners didn’t want for a neighbour: dyers, creating their pigments by fermenting ingredients in urine; sulphur workers; mercury boiling – important both for hats and medicine; tanners; brewers; soap makers and paint makers. 

These businesses would have rubbed shoulders with the amphitheatres and other, more violent, entertainments of Shakespeare’s world. Park Street, now a mixture of offices and housing, would have been Maiden Lane. A visitor to The Globe on a show day afternoon would have turned onto the street with the Monger Brewery on their left and commercial pike fisheries to their right. The Globe and Rose playhouses would have been surrounded by tanneries, dyers and glassworks. 

Alarmingly, for a modern person, plays would have been disrupted by the roars of bears in the local baiting arenas: buildings in similar style to the Globe and Rose, but used for blood sport between animals. Fliers for celebrity bears like Old Harry and George Stone would have papered the area, with occasional glimpses of the animals being wrangled from the bear sheds on what is now the street Bear Gardens, to nearby baiting houses like the Davies amphitheatre and the Hope. 

The way home would have either been a dark, hazardous journey across London Bridge, under the heads of those who had offended Elizabeth I, or the slightly more pleasant experience of a ferry ride, leaving behind the smells and noises of the Bankside for the claustrophobic overcrowding of the smoke-haunted city of London. 

The Bankside Tour explores the sights and culture of Shakespeare’s Bankside. Tours depart every half an hour from the Shakespeare’s Globe Exhibition on matinee afternoons.

Read more blogs by our Guided Tours & Exhibition staff

Words: Jon Kaneko-James

Photo: From William Smith’s MS. of the Description of England, c. 1580 – The Project Gutenberg eBook, Shakespearean Playhouses, by Joseph Quincy Adams, Wikimedia

Experimental Education: Studying with Shakespeare’s GlobeWords:…

Experimental Education: Studying with Shakespeare’s Globe

Words: Kim Gilchrist

As I write this, I’m two weeks past my viva – the meeting where a student is required to defend their completed PhD thesis, answering questions posed by two senior academics. Happily, I now get to call myself Doctor Gilchrist. 

It’s been a long process, an adventure, from Shakespeare enthusiast to doctor of early modern drama. And the journey started, academically at least, with an application form to KCL and Shakespeare’s Globe MA in Shakespeare Studies

I have a BA, and general background, in theatre studies. I had worked on a number of productions of Shakespeare’s plays over the years, in a role we called co-directing but which would probably now be called dramaturgy – I filled gaps that needed filling: talked to the actors one-on-one, composed songs for our folk-rock wayward sisters in Macbeth, researched the plays, read all the Arden footnotes etc. I wrote a play of my own, Forgiving Shakespeare, a comedy in verse about Shakespeare, John Fletcher, Cervantes, and Shakespeare’s daughter, Judith. I read books, and books, and books, about Shakespeare. But I’d never thought I could “do” Shakespeare for a living. 

For some reason, around the end of 2011 it all fell together and I realised I spent more time reading and thinking about Shakespeare and his world than almost anything else. Without realising, I’d stumbled on the thing I was meant to be doing. Back to that application form.

The KCL and Shakespeare’s Globe MA in Shakespeare Studies runs, at the King’s College London end, from the English department. As such, I was an unusual candidate – out of further education for many, many, years, and with no English literature experience since my A-levels. Yet I soon found, in a good way, that a grounding in English Literature offered only partial preparation for the MA. For those used to studying Shakespeare and early modern drama only on the page, only as a kind of refined form of novel – reading the characters for psychological dimensions, arguing about motive and metaphor – the MA could be a shock. 

There were classes on textiles and costume, the most valuable properties owned by any early modern playing company or theatre owner; sessions on music, and make-up – Globe Education’s Farah Karim-Cooper has literally written the book on cosmetics in early modern drama: I remember the reverent hush the day we passed a pot of shimmering pearl powder around the class; we learned about the strange acoustics of playhouses, the economics of touring, the poetry of doubling, how the person sitting on the throne of England determined what did, and didn’t, get played; we learned about the cultural pressures that caused, shaped, and sustained Shakespeare’s plays, pressures that are often left invisible by more traditional teaching methods.
Central to the MA was its location – within the Globe complex itself. 

There was always a sense of practical activity, of theatre at work –crowds audible as we walked to class, costumed actors swooping past, props under construction in the car park. This helped the theories, the history we were learning feel less abstract. We could study theories of bare-stage, open-air performance, and then see theory put into practice from the pit of the theatre itself. Was Henry VI different when performed over ten hours in torrential rain? It was. It was. 

Meanwhile, through the modules offered on the KCL campus, the culture of the Elizabethan-Jacobean world was uncovered. Just as Shakespeare’s Globe afforded greater understanding of the material pressures and conditions of theatre and performance, at KCL we learned about the production, economies, and peculiarities of playbooks, those ephemeral, fragile, largely disposable little volumes without which we would have no access to the texts of early modern drama. Who printed these books, once the players were done with their scripts? Who bought them? How much did they cost? Why were so many hundreds of plays printed? Why were so many thousands of plays never printed? 

When I started teaching early modern drama at my current university, Roehampton, I took some students on a tour of the Globe. They were able to see the Sam Wannamaker Playhouse, a version of the kind of space in which, for example, John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi was first performed. We then crossed the river via Blackfriars Bridge to the churchyard of St Paul’s Cathedral, once the centre of the London book trade. We stood on the spot where, once it had been published, The Duchess of Malfi was first put up for sale by a bookseller called John Waterson from his wooden stall. 

From the Globe, we were able to retrace the footsteps, and the lifecycle, of a single play and its customers, from stage to stall. On this theme, if you want to read more about what I learned, I adapted my MA dissertation on the play Mucedorus – the most frequently published play of the early modern era – into an article that was published last year by the journal Shakespeare.

Beyond the formal parameters of the course itself, there were constant opportunities to participate in and observe events put on by Globe Education. Of particular impact for me was Read Not Dead, the regular stagings of little-or-never-performed early modern plays put on by skilled actors with a single morning’s rehearsal. It opened my eyes to strange and beautiful plays I would never otherwise have been able to see; it provided valuable insight into how plays work in performance – a play that may have been dismissed by literature scholars as unpoetic or crude can reveal subtleties and depth of artistry when spoken and acted aloud. 

Finally, there are Globe Education’s internships – open only to MA students when I was there, now open to applications across the UK. I was lucky enough to get a placement, and even luckier that this coincided with the opening of the SWP. I filled a bulging folder full with articles and research for the director of the SWP’s inaugural production, The Duchess of Malfi and then, like all dramaturgs and researchers will do, I scrutinised the final production to see if my research had had any influence. 

To learn at Shakespeare’s Globe was also to conduct research, watch plays for fun, and make long-sustained personal and professional friendships that have enriched my life and career ever since. It was, and is, a dynamic, forward-thinking, challenging and experimental institution. I learned a lot.  

February Half-Term 2018 at Shakespeare’s GlobeThis half-term…

February Half-Term 2018 at Shakespeare’s Globe

This half-term families with children of all ages can enjoy workshops and events as part of our storytelling festival (themed around water!), Tales for Rainy Days.

We’re also running a special offer for our Guided Tours & Exhibition -tickets for children have been reduced to just £5 (down from £7.50) when booking online in advance.

As part of the Exhibition, families can also enjoy free live demonstrations, including of Elizabethan dressing, sword fighting and seeing the working of a replica printing press. These demonstrations take place daily between 11.00am to 4.00pm and are included in your tour ticket (which lasts all day, so you can pop out for lunch and come back in the afternoon if you please).

As part of the Tours & Exhibition we also have a printed Family Trail and an audio guide for younger visitors.

In our Underglobe area throughout half-term, you’re free to just come sit for a quiet moment away from the Southbank. There will be cushions, beanbags and mats in this indoor area, and children’s books to read. There will be a separate buggy park area for the day.

We hope to see you then!

Explore workshops and events as part of the ‘Tales for Rainy Days’ festival

Read more about our Guided Tours & Exhibition

Plan your visit

Playing Shakespeare 2018: In RehearsalRehearsals are underway…

Playing Shakespeare 2018: In Rehearsal

Rehearsals are underway for Playing Shakespeare 2018 with Deutsche Bank.

This version of Much Ado About Nothing is created for those new to Shakespeare, young people, families and schools. 

Performances start on 23 February.

Photography by Cesare de Giglio

Find more photos and information on Facebook

Learning the Ropes as a Tour Guide at Shakespeare’s GlobeIn this…

Learning the Ropes as a Tour Guide at Shakespeare’s Globe

In this new series of blogs, we’re going to take you behind the scenes of our Guided Tours & Exhibition. Open all year round, the tour gives you an opportunity to learn more about this unique building and its most famous playwright, Shakespeare.

In our first blog post last week, Ffion explored the magic of sharing theatre experiences and in today’s blog, Nicola Pollard talks about the training involved in becoming a guide at one of the world’s most interesting theatre venues.


We’re sometimes asked how we come to be a Tour Guide at Shakespeare’s Globe, so I thought I’d give you a little insight!

There are a fair number of us, around 45 or so. Some work more regularly than others, it’s a flexible contract so we can fit this around other work. A number of our team are tour guides at other attractions and locations, like the Houses of Parliament or St Paul’s Cathedral. Others are involved in the theatre industry as actors or directors, or are retired from a wide range of professions, or have recently graduated and are working out what they want to do with life! What unites us all is a love of the Globe and a desire to share that with you. 

Once through the interview stage, every new guide gets five days of training. Mine was all in one week, and I like to refer to it as the ‘intensive version’ (or crash course!). The first couple of days are all about absorbing the nature of the job, shadowing other guides on their tours, picking up hints and tips and wading through the epic manual. We are assigned a mentor – a wise and experienced guide – who is on hand to answer any questions and show us the ropes. The mentor also helps us shape and structure our tours, listens to us stumble through numerous versions and then (hopefully) deems us ready for a final test. 


Each tour we give must include basic information about the Globe, such as when and how it was built, Sam Wanamaker’s vision, playing styles then and now. But after that, we can pepper our tours with whatever information we feel fits, as long as it’s accurate, interesting and enjoyable for our audience! 

The final test is taken with real, live, unsuspecting members of the public. We’re given the first tour of the day, usually about 15 to 20 people, followed (literally) by our Line Manager, Chris, and another experienced guide or member of the Exhibition department, complete with their clipboards and check-lists. Let’s be honest, I’ve had more relaxing hours in my life. You’ve rehearsed it, practiced it at home, practiced it around the Globe, said it yourself and said it out loud (probably shouldn’t have done the latter on the train). 

Luckily, I had a really friendly group for my test and after waving the crowd away at the end, I turned to my assessors. This is not unlike that moment at the end of a driving test when you wait to see if they’re going to fill in the special form, or look at you with a disappointed expression. I passed!

If you don’t get it right first time, you’re given the chance to look over the feedback and try again. After passing, you’re offered a contract as a Globe Tour Guide, given a shiny new ID card complete with (in my case) awful photo and voila, you’re part of the team. 

For my first few weeks (ahem, months) I found I was always learning something new. I learnt how to adapt a tour to a group of exhausted Spanish students who were coming to the end of a tiring week in London. I learnt how to best show around a group with mobility issues. I learnt new terms. I learnt the location of Middle Gallery Bay L. 

I like this place, and willing could waste my time in it. So, come and while away your time with us. Whether we’ve been here five months or five years, we’re more than happy to take you round.

Read more about Guided Tours & Exhibition


Words: Nicola Pollard
Photos: John Wildgoose and Shakespeare’s Globe

Imaginary Forces: Q&A with Michelle TerryIn 2018, we’ve…

Imaginary Forces: Q&A with Michelle Terry

In 2018, we’ve entered an exciting new phase. Our new summer season was announced earlier this month, along with a new visual identity.

In this Q&A, meet Artistic Director Designate Michelle Terry ahead of her first season at Shakespeare’s Globe, which kicks off this April with Hamlet and As You Like It.

What is your first memory of Shakespeare’s Globe?

Queuing for Twelfth Night on a warm Sunday in 2002. I bought a tub of mixed nuts and a pint of beer and stood in the yard on my own and couldn’t believe what I was watching. The most permissive, empowering, autonomous experience I have ever had in a theatre.

Do you have a favourite memory in this building?

Playing the Princess of France in Love’s Labour’s Lost in 2009, I was sitting on a walkway that came out into the yard, facing the stage when I felt a tug on my corset string. I turned my head and a man said, “I’m terribly sorry, your majesty. Your corset has come undone”. It was the most sublime moment where logic and myth came together. It was totally logical to this man that he should save me from an embarrassment, but simultaneously he was immersed enough in the myth and the story to call me “your majesty”! Pure Globe.


Photo: Love’s Labour’s Lost, directed by Dominic Dromgoole, 2009

Why did you want to work at Shakespeare’s Globe?

It’s the most theatrical space I know and where Shakespeare makes the most sense to me.


Pictured: ‘And let us… on your imaginary forces work’ (Henry V) – part of our new cause statement

What’s the best thing about your job?

No matter how hard things get, the bottom line is that we all get to work on these incredible plays in these incredible spaces and share them with an audience in the most sensorial and experiential way. It’s extraordinary.

What are your hopes and dreams for the future of Shakespeare’s Globe?

That we continue to delight audiences, from the eight year old to the eighty-nine year old, with these plays in these unique playhouses, and continue to surprise and inspire the passionate aficionados and the newcomer alike. 


Photos of Michelle Terry by Sarah Lee

What are you most proud of?

To be a part of the history of the journey of this extraordinary building.

Do you have a favourite Shakespeare quote?

‘Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.’ (Measure for Measure)

Favourite Shakespeare play?

All of them!


Photo: Pete Le May

What would your 90 year old self say to you now?

Keep going. It matters. 

If you could describe Shakespeare’s Globe in one word, what would it be?

Vital. Alive. Wonder-Full… nope, sorry, one word is not enough.

Shakespeare’s Globe Summer Season 2018 goes on sale to the public on 29 January, but you can support us as a Friend to receive priority booking.

All’s Well That Ends Well: Production PhotosAll’s Well…

Martina Laird (Countess of Rossillion) and Will Merrick (Bertram) in All’s Well That Ends Well, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, 2018. (📸: Marc Brenner)

Ellora Torchia (Helena) and Will Merrick (Bertram) in All’s Well That Ends Well, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, 2018. (📸: Marc Brenner)

Ellora Torchia (Helena) in All’s Well That Ends Well, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, 2018. (📸: Marc Brenner)

Nigel Cooke (King of France) and Ellora Torchia (Helena) in All’s Well That Ends Well, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, 2018. (📸: Marc Brenner)

Ellora Torchia (Helena) and Martina Laird (Countess of Rossillion) in All’s Well That Ends Well, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, 2018. (📸: Marc Brenner)

Hannah Ringham (Clown) and Martina Laird (Countess of Rossillion) in All’s Well That Ends Well, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, 2018. (📸: Marc Brenner)

Ellora Torchia (Helena) and Will Merrick (Bertram) in All’s Well That Ends Well, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, 2018. (📸: Marc Brenner)

Ellora Torchia (Helena) in All’s Well That Ends Well, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, 2018. (📸: Marc Brenner)

Nigel Cooke (King of France) in All’s Well That Ends Well, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, 2018. (📸: Marc Brenner)

Imogen Doel (Paroles) in All’s Well That Ends Well, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, 2018. (📸: Marc Brenner)

All’s Well That Ends Well: Production Photos

All’s Well That Ends Well plays in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse until Saturday 3 March 2018. Photography by Marc Brenner.

Buy tickets →

The Magic of Shakespeare’s GlobeIn this new series of blogs,…

The Magic of Shakespeare’s Globe

In this new series of blogs, we’re going to take you behind the scenes of our Guides Tours & Exhibition. Open all year round, the tour gives you an opportunity to learn more about this unique building and its most famous playwright, Shakespeare.

In our first blog post, Tour Guide Ffion Jones discusses why she believes that Shakespeare’s Globe is the perfect space to share theatre experiences with others.


Whilst studying for my Masters in Creative Writing, I was introduced to Peter Brook, and I was so inspired by the ethos behind his work. Reading Peter Brook and the Mahabharata: Critical Perspectives helped me to get a grasp on what it is that I love about theatre; why I love acting, why I love writing, why I love helping people to make theatre, and why I love working at Shakespeare’s Globe.

I have worked for many years, delivering hundreds upon hundreds of tours, describing this iconic, weighty building and the magic within its walls. I am constantly amazed by my stamina and ability to keep telling the Globe’s story (and intrinsically, my own story) over and over again. Somehow, the energy of the moment, the faces in front of me and their wonderful invitation to share gets me going every time. 

I have a belief about the magic of theatre and the magic of Shakespeare’s Globe and I have experienced this magic in multiple ways, on and off stage – and there is a little dusting of it on the tours.


The reason theatre is different to many other art forms is because it is live, because you are occupying the same space, because there are real tangible humans in front of you and because when it’s right – that’s it and then it’s gone. This is the most amazing feeling and, to me, the most rewarding art. 

I prance around, flinging my limbs and my voice about, attempting to do a one woman version of something like this, trying to suggest a tiny iota of this magic, on the tours. Peter Brook describes a communication of the “direct physical conviction of the actors, their presence and individuality” and, to me, Shakespeare’s Globe is the home of this communication. 

The shared space opens up an immediacy and shared language like nothing I’ve ever witnessed before. When Titus Andronicus parades into the theatre on ‘horseback’ showcasing his spoils of war, when Marc Anthony looks into people’s eyes and pleads to be heard, when Lancelot Gobbo enlists the help of an audience member to make a decision and when the shrewish Kate drags herself through the crowd after being starved to a point of insanity. These things make you think, make you laugh, make you be.


With a new season of plays approaching, I wait with bated breath to stand in the yard and meet the next companies of actors, the next array of characters and the next assortment of stories. I can’t wait to tell people what personality these shows bepaint. And I can’t wait to tell them that they must come and see it for themselves, for their role as the audience is the special ingredient to making the witches brew. 

I tell people that putting Shakespeare’s plays in the original environment (or as close to it as possible) allows us to not only relive history but palpably feel the effects of Shakespeare’s plays that were intended. Peter Brook investigated the basic-ness of being human and presented theatre in its most crude form. And, I believe, that it is this element that the Globe drags out of Shakespeare’s plays, which is perhaps unexpected to an audience with anticipations of difficult language and highbrow chortling. The Globe has the beauty of the here and now. I cannot wait to be there, here and now, when this summer rolls around. 

Read more about Guided Tours & Exhibition

Words: Ffion Jones

Sources: Williams, D. (1991) Peter Brook and the Mahabharata: Critical Perspectives, London: Routledge

Photos: John Wildgoose and Shakespeare’s Globe