Recently I was at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London to see King John on a lovely summer evening. I had arrived from across the River via the Millennium Bridge which was bustling with early evening pedestrian traffic.
Looking up at the clear blue sky from inside the theatre reassured me that rain was unlikely and that having a standing ticket was going to give me a very different perspective of the performance I was about to see.
Although I knew that the current site of the Globe wasn’t situated on the exact site of the original Globe looking around the theatre there was a strong sense of history enhanced by my memories of watching the film “Shakespeare in Love” and a recent trip to the Museum of London where I saw several recreations of medieval London.
The £5 standing tickets that my sister and I were trying out are known as Groundlings tickets, which is what the audience members who stood in the yard of the original Globe were known as, paying a penny (often a day’s wage) to stand close to the stage. What you get from this location in the theatre is an opportunity to see the costumes close up, be in close proximity to the characters and if you are very lucky interact with the some of the characters. You need to get in early if you the opportunity to make eye contact during the passionate speeches made by cast members. We were very happy to stand at the edge of the standing area and rest our backs on the outer wall, getting a good overview of the action, the dramatic entrances and exits of the cast as they rushed off to battle or travelled to England or France.
Before arriving I knew very little about the play except that it was one of the more obscure Shakespearean plays. As a seasoned theatre goer what at I enjoyed about the performances at the Globe was the energy of the actors as they worked hard to entertain the crowd, the story involved deception, treachery, comedy and some very good sword fighting scenes. The fact the audience is so close added a special dimension to the dynamics of the performances. At times it felt like we were members of the wider court, involved in the action and amplifying the emotions conveyed by a great cast. Another benefit of our location meant that we had the opportunity to get a good view of the great costumes and rich fabrics. I am reliably informed that the wardrobe at the Globe attempt to create authentic costumes down to the undergarments!
As a taster of what the performance space at the Globe Theatre has to offer King John was a great show. It’s on for the rest of June and I would recommend going to see if you can. There are many other plays on at the Globe on this summer leading up to October and I hope to catch one or two of them perhaps from a seated position…
P.S. I came across this link about the strong female characters within the play.