Category: William Shakespeare

#ShakespeareOrNot: Answers

Today for #WednesdayWisdom, we’ve been playing #ShakespeareOrNot over on Twitter. Which of the following did you guess as being the work of the Bard?

“I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it.”

Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carol

“Let the time run on, to good or bad." 
Cymbeline, William Shakespeare

“The praise that comes from love does not make us vain, but more humble.” 
J.M Barrie

"Unable are the loved to die, for love is immortality.”

Emily Dickinson

“The better part of valour is discretion.”

Henry IV Part 1, William Shakespeare

“It is what you do with the gift of life that determines who you are.”

The Pokemon Movie, Mewtwo

“The inner machinations of my mind are an enigma." 
Spongebob Squarepants, Patrick Star

"Whatsoever I’ve feared has come to light and whatsoever I’ve fought off became my life." 

Fell on Black Days by Soundgarden

“Nothing feebler does earth nurture than man, of all things that on earth are breathing and moving.” 
The Odyssey, Homer

"Neither borrower nor a lender be.”

Hamlet, William Shakespeare

An Introduction to Early Modern FairiesWhen attending a Guided…

An Introduction to Early Modern Fairies

When attending a Guided Tour at Shakespeare’s Globe you’ll hear all manner of stories from our passionate and knowledgable guides. Over the last few months we’ve been sharing blogs by our staff in a new series.

Last week, Tour Guide and Exhibition Assistant Jon Kaneko-James explored what the area of Bankside would have been like in Shakespeare’s time. Today, he’d like to talk to you about another one of his areas of expertise…

As well as being a Tour Guide and Exhibition Assistant at Shakespeare’s Globe, I also write and publish historical research on the Early Modern belief in the supernatural. 

Fairies were a definite part of English life in Shakespeare’s era. In 1590 Edmund Spenser’s The Fairie Queene had mythologised Queen Elizabeth as the fairy queen Gloriana. In general, in fact, fairies went through definite period of popularity in literary circles, with the number of published works involving fairies experiencing steady growth from 1598 through to 1610. 

Fairies had also long occupied a place in popular culture. The 10th century Leechbook of Bald included a medico-magical spell for curing elf shot, and medieval chroniclers like Gervaise of Tilbery and Geraldus Cambrensis had written detailed stories of the fairy realm and their visits to our world. 

In Act Five, Scene Five of The Merry Wives of Windsor Mistress Quickly and the others band together to convince the troublesome Falstaff that if he goes to a secluded place in Windsor forest disguised as a ghost, he will meet the object of his affections – Mistress Ford. When Falstaff arrives wearing horns as a chain as his disguise, he is set upon by children dressed as fairies and chastised in verse for his wicked ways. 

For Shakespeare’s audiences, this may well have resonated with the not unamusing crimes of a London con-woman named Judith Philips. The 1595 pamphlet The Bridling, Saddling and Riding of a Rich Churl in Hampshire had documented Philips’ tricking of a rich country miser. 

Philips herself had been the wife of a gunmaker named John Pope, before tiring of his modest income and leaving to seek her fortune elsewhere. Described as a fortune teller and ‘Cunning Woman’ (a magical practitioner who sold remedies), Philips heard that the miser – living in Up Somborne – was both greedy and gullible and decided to turn a profit on him. 

After first climbing into his garden to plant coins at the dead of night, Philips returned the next day to convince the miser and his wife of her magical link with the queen of the fairies by leading them to dig up the coins, seemingly detected by magic. Obviously, having made a profit, the miser offered her anything she wanted. Judith was not shy to demand.

She asked not only for fourteen pounds (and got it) but also for ‘The largest chamber in your house behung with the finest linen you can get, so that nothing around your chamber but white linen cloth be seen, then you must set five candlesticks in five several places in your chamber, and under every candlestick you must put an angel of gold, all of which was done as she required…’ 

The final step in the process was the utter humiliation of her mark: Judith saddled and bridled him, rode him three times between the chamber and the holly tree, and left him with instructions that he and his wife must worship the tree naked for at least three hours. 

Judith, of course, used the time to clean his house out of valuables, and after a brief pantomime as the fairy queen to subjugate her gulls, she escaped the scene of her crime to Winchester, and eventually to London. Embarrassed by his foolishness, the ‘churl’ initially reported nothing.

For Shakespeare’s audiences, this would be neither the first or the last time that fairies – whether honestly or dishonestly – came into their lives. Whether as the mythical builders of iron age mounds, or the supernatural authority behind a local Cunning Woman’s medicine, fairies would have been an almost commonplace element of daily life.

Photo: The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania by Joseph Noel Paton, Google Art Project / Wikimedia

Read more blogs by our Guided Tours & Exhibition staff

Words: Jon Kaneko-James

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.  

Photo: Pete Le May

Photos from Playing Shakespeare 2018Thank you to all the schools…

Charlyne Francis as Donna Joan.

Aruhan Galieva as Hero, Fiona Hampton as Beatrice and Rachel Winters as Margaret.

Fiona Hampton as Beatrice.

Emilio Doorgasingh as Leonato and Aruhan Galieva as Hero.

Philip Correia as Claudio and Aruhan Galieva as Hero.

Tyler Fayose as Don Pedro and Ben Mansfield as Benedick.

Charlyne Francis, Ben Mansfield, Fiona Hampton, Rachel Winters, Jordan Mifsud, Emilio Doorgasingh and Charlotte Mills.

Tyler Fayose as Don Pedro.

Photos from Playing Shakespeare 2018

Thank you to all the schools and families who have enjoyed Playing Shakespeare 2018 with Deutsche Bank over the last few weeks! 

This project delivers 90-minute versions of Shakespeare’s plays and this year students have enjoyed Much Ado About Nothing

So far, Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank has given away over 170,000 free tickets to students. 

Our last remaining family performances take place on Saturday 17 and Tuesday 20 March and tickets are still available

See more photos on Facebook

Photography by Cesare de Giglio

#GlobeOnTour 2018 in RehearsalOur #GlobeOnTour company are in…

Cynthia Emeagi.

Cynthia Emeagi.

Steffan Cennydd and Sarah Finigan.

Luke Brady.

Steffan Cennydd.

Colm Gormley and Rhianna McGreevy.

Brendan O’ Hea (Director) and Isabel Marr (Assistant Director).

Rhianna McGreevy.

Cynthia Emeagi, Russell Layton, Colm Gormley, Steffan Cennydd, Jacqueline Phillips, Rhianna McGreevy, Sarah Finigan and Luke Brady.

#GlobeOnTour 2018 in Rehearsal

Our #GlobeOnTour company are in rehearsals. This year they will take Twelfth Night, The Taming of the Shrew and The Merchant of Venice on tour to various venues across the world. 

Some of the performances will be decided beforehand, but for others the choice of play will often be given to the audience on the evening of the performance, in order to experiment with how a company would have toured in Shakespeare’s day.

See the full rehearsal gallery on Facebook

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Photography by Marc Brenner

Emma Rice’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Twelfth Night on Globe…

Emma Rice’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Twelfth Night on Globe Player

We are excited to announce that from today you can rent or buy A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Twelfth Night on Globe Player.

Go to to download, and be sure to Tweet us your experiences of the shows using the hashtag #GlobePlayer

Download A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Download Twelfth Night

Watch trailers

Photo by Steve Tanner

Playing Companies in Shakespeare’s TimeOur amazing Tour Guides…

Playing Companies in Shakespeare’s Time

Our amazing Tour Guides and Exhibition Assistants have been sharing their knowledge of Shakespeare’s Globe in a series of recent blogs.

Nicola discussed her experiences of becoming a Tour Guide, and this month is here to talk to you about Elizabethan theatre companies…

Today, most actors are self-employed freelancers, but this was wholly inadvisable in Shakespeare’s time. 

In Elizabethan England the term for self-employed was ‘vagrant’ and punishments were worse than just paying your National Insurance twice. A vagrant would wander around in search of work and risk being branded, fined or imprisoned in the process. To avoid such association, aspiring actors joined playing companies. Being a member of a company protected you from vagrancy laws – you had somewhere to belong. Young Shakespeare was a member of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, the Lord Chamberlain being their patron. They later became the King’s Men, the premier theatre company of the time. Members of the aristocracy or the royal family often lent their name to companies, which, in addition to a financial benefit, also gave the company prestige and status. 

Each company had a company manager. In the case of Lord Chamberlain’s Men this was impresario James Burbage, responsible for the first purpose-built theatre in London (named, with great imagination, The Theatre), and then The Globe in 1599. James wasn’t an actor, but his son Richard played many of Shakespeare’s leads, including Hamlet, Richard III and Othello. (Richard also, allegedly, shares my birthday.) 

Richard was at the top of the actors’ hierarchy. Below him were 15 or so men and boys, all aware of their place. The older, more experienced actors would play the mature roles, such as Polonius in Hamlet, senior lords in the history plays. Lower down the company, actors would get two or three roles per play. As you might know, many of Shakespeare’s plays have fairly sizeable casts so there must have been a great deal of multi-role going on. At the bottom of the company are the apprentices, young boys attached to an older actor to learn their trade. These lads play the young Princes in Richard III, pages and children of nobles. Once they have learned a little stagecraft, but before their voices break, they might play the female characters, Viola, Rosalind, Imogen. Not every boy player went on to be a professional adult actor, in fact, very few of them did, although one or two were noted as being brilliant. 

The share-holders in the Lord Chamberlain’s Men were, in some reports, a band of brothers. Leaving each other gifts in their wills and sticking together for many years, these were the few who had put up money to build the Globe of 1599. These players were the backbone of the company. Some say that Shakespeare knew his men so well he wrote specific parts for specific actors, roles that suited their styles and manners. It’s certainly likely that the Fool or Clown parts differ due to the contrasting playing styles of the two comedians in the company, Will Kemp (who upon leaving the Chamberlain’s Men morris danced from London to Norwich, as you do) then the slightly wittier, better behaved Robert Armin

I wonder if these men and boys had any idea that in over 400 years, actors would still be playing those roles, saying those lines. That they would become some of the most revered roles in theatre. Although the names of many of these players are now lost, as members of the company for which Shakespeare wrote they certainly made their mark.

Find out more about theatre history and Shakespeare’s Globe on one of our Guided Tours.

Cast Announced for Summer 2018 TourWe are delighted to announce…

Luke Brady and Steffan Cennydd

Cynthia Emeagi

Sarah Finigan

Colm Gormley

Russell Layton

Rhianna McGreevy

Jacqueline Phillips

Cast Announced for Summer 2018 Tour

We are delighted to announce full casting for our 2018 tour, directed by Brendan O’Hea

From 7 May, a company of eight actors will embark on a national and international tour of Twelfth Night, The Taming of the Shrew and The Merchant of Venice, beginning and ending at The Globe. 

In the spirit of Shakespearean tradition, the company will allow the audience to decide which of the three plays they would like to see, with a voting mechanism to be determined over the course of rehearsals.

The full cast includes: Luke Brady, Steffan Cennydd, Cynthia Emeagi, Sarah Finigan, Colm Gormley, Russell Layton, Rhianna McGreevy and Jacqueline Phillips.

“In the past decade we’ve toured across the world to castles, refugee camps, country houses and theatres. But one thing we never leave behind is the spirit of The Globe – in a shared space with story, storyteller and audience, we celebrate Shakespeare’s work with as many people as possible. But we’re keen to push the experiment further, so we asked, what would Shakespeare do? Following in Shakespearean tradition, our merry band will have three plays up their sleeve, and, for many performances, the responsibility to choose the entertainment will be given back to the most powerful person in our household: the audience. It’s experimental, it’s experiential, it’s Shakespearean, it’s shared, and it’s at the heart of all that we do.” Artistic Director Designate Michelle Terry

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More holiday photos: Shakespeare’s birth…

More holiday photos: Shakespeare’s birthplace and Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Stratford-Upon-Avon.