Shakespeare's Globe Names New Indoor Theatre in Honor of Founder Sam Wanamaker; Building Designs Unveiled

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27 Nov 2012

The new indoor Jacobean theatre that will be built within Shakespeare's Globe in London is to be named The Sam Wanamaker Theatre, in honor of the Globe's pioneering founder. Final building designs for the theatre have also been unveiled, with first performances due to begin there in January 2014.





According to press materials, in the late 1960s a book was taken from a shelf in Worcester College Oxford, and a series of drawings fell from it. These are the earliest set of design drawings for an English theatre in existence.  Originally thought to be by Inigo Jones, they were later understood to be by his protégé John Webb.  A large proportion of our understanding of Jacobean theatre design and construction stems from these drawings, and this is the first theatre in the world built as a response to them.  It will be a Jacobean archetype, which Shakespeare or any of his contemporaries would have felt at home making theatre within.

The Sam Wanamaker Theatre will allow Shakespeare's Globe to present plays throughout the year, to expand the repertoire of work it presents, to investigate indoor theatre practice and to stage Jacobean plays in their intended atmosphere.  It will seat 340 people with two tiers of galleried seating and a pit seating area.  The theatre will be predominantly lit by candles. The finished edifice is designed with careful research into the materials, methods and the decorative aesthetics of Jacobean buildings.  

Wanamaker's original vision for the Globe always included a second indoor theatre space, the shell of which was incorporated into the blueprint of the Globe complex. When Shakespeare's Globe finally opened in 1997 after more than 27 years planning and four years construction, the Indoor Jacobean Theatre was left as a shell, to be divided and partitioned into rooms for education workshops and rehearsals. Now, 14 years after the theatre opened, the Globe is embarking on the physical realization of this archetypal Jacobean indoor performance space based on plans developed through exhaustive research led by the the theatre's Architectural Research Group., a unique assembly of Shakespeare, Early Theatre and Architectural scholars, led by Dr. Farah Karim-Cooper.

The lead architects for the plans are Allies and Morrison, who previously oversaw the redevelopment of the Southbank Centre. In addition to the new theatre, an extensive redevelopment of the foyer spaces has been planned. The number of annual visitors to the Globe has far exceeded original expectations, with over one million people coming every year. Designed to transform the public spaces serving both the Globe and The Sam Wanamaker Theatres, the architects Allies and Morrison have designed a generous and open foyer space, featuring new, hardwearing, simple and timeless finishes to better serve Shakespeare's Globe and its diverse activities.

Also on the team are Professor Martin White, a leading scholar in theatre lighting; Peter McCurdy, a builder and master craftsman, who built the Globe itself; Jon Greenfield, working as reconstruction architect, who worked as Globe architect Theo Crosby's assistant, and who, after Crosby's death, completed the design for the Globe; acoustician Paul Gileron, working with the architects to create a sympathetic sound environment; and Virtus, who will be the main contractor carrying out the building work.

A successful fundraising campaign by Shakespeare's Globe has enabled the project to be developed thus far without any government support. A public campaign is now being launched to raise the final one million pounds needed to create the theatre.

In a press statement, artistic director Dominic Dromgoole commented, "The Sam Wanamaker Theatre will allow the Globe to continue its experimental vision of going back to the future. Just as with the Globe itself, these unique playing conditions offer an opportunity to refresh our understanding of Jacobean theatre, and to provoke new visions for the future of how theatre can be made."

For further details, visit www.shakespearesglobe.com.