August 5, 2011 / 3:28 PM / in 6 years

Lanterns! Candles! Shakespeare for Jacobeans

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A new Jacobean-style theater, 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 theater 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 theater, another Elizabethan playhouse, Shakespeare’s Globe said in a statement.

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

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

“The faithful recreation of the Globe 14 years ago revolutionized people’s ideas of what a theater can, could and should be,” Artistic Director Dominic Dromgoole said on the theatre’s website. “The recreation of an indoor Jacobean theater, 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 theater, which is smaller than its open-air counterpart, will seat around 320 people. In order to recreate the experience of 17th century theater, 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 Theater 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 theater is inspired by two drawings for an indoor theater, 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 ($13,058,452).

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

The original Globe burned 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 theater season from April to October putting on productions of Shakespeare's works and conducts year-round tours of the theater, 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.

Edited by Paul Casciato

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