Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre – Exhibition and Tour

shakespeares-globe-courtyard shakespeares-globe-looking-down shakespeares-globe-theatre-door shakespeares-globe-set shakespeares-globe-metal-trees shakespeares-globe-balconies shakespeares-globe-queen-elizabeth-1 shakespeares-globe-model shakespeares-globe-quotes shakespeares-globe-swordfighting shakespeares-globe-costumesShakespeare’s Globe might not seem like an obvious choice for a family outing but you’d be surprised how much is on offer for children at this beautiful theatre and exhibition space. Situated beside the River Thames, in the shadow of the imposing Tate Modern Power Station, The Globe is a meticulous reconstruction of the original Elizabethan playhouse that burnt down in 1613.

My daughter recently started to show a keen interest in Shakespeare after catching a clip of Zeffirelli’s 1968 adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. I can recall watching it for the first time at around her age and just like her I was instantly mesmerised, I remember thinking that I’d never seen anyone more lovely than Zeffirelli’s Juliet. As a light introduction we ordered a few of the fantastic Usbourne Young Reading – Shakespeare books, previously featured on Babyccino here. She loved them so much that during the summer holidays I decided to take her to see where the real magic happens.

The guided tour of the auditorium lasts around half an hour and is filled with colourful stories of the comings and goings of this notorious playhouse from a time when this part of the city was considered far from respectable. The space itself is truly magnificent and wandering around the oak galleries you can’t help but imagine what it would have been like like in Shakespeare’s day. The guides really bring the theatre to life with lots of interesting stories and facts, some of which will certainly raise a few eyebrows. On the day that we visited, the stage was set for that evening’s performance of Macbeth, the kids were eager to learn more about the plot but I think we’ll save that book for a few years down the line! Did you know that among acting circles it’s widely believed to be bad luck to mention the name Macbeth inside a theatre, except during a performance? We didn’t, oops!

Included in the admission price is entry to the globe exhibition which offers a fascinating insight into the world of Shakespeare. Covering everything from Elizabethan special effects, costumes and stories about the playwright himself. There are lots of interactive elements aimed at children and we grabbed a couple of copies of the family trail from the reception which include a fun quiz to complete as you make your way round. Also running throughout the day are live demonstrations of sword fighting, costume dressings and script printing using original Elizabethan printing methods. On our first visit we managed to just miss the last demonstrations of the day but the theatre kindly agreed to let us come back the following week on the same ticket. And I’m so glad we did as it turned out to be the highlight of the tour. We arrived just as the Royal Shakespeare Company’s – chief fight choreographer was putting some of the actors through their paces. The children were given a chance to speak to the actors and ask questions and even got to hold the swords used in the famous street brawl from Romeo and Juliet. The enormous, unwieldy swords probably weighed and measured more than they did — such a funny sight!

The Globe exhibition and tour is a brilliant way to introduce school age children to the life and works of our country’s most famous playwright. And as for adults, if you’ve never seen inside the Globe you won’t be disappointed. You’ll probably learn a few interesting facts about The Bard too – just remember, don’t mention Macbeth!

The exhibition and tours are open all year round at the following times but as this is a working theatre I strongly advise calling before you visit to check exactly when the tours and live demonstrations are running:
Theatre Tours: Tuesday to Saturday 9.30am – 12.30pm, Sunday 9.30am – 11.30am, Monday 9.30am – 5.00pm
Exhibition: Monday to Sunday 9.00am – 5.00pm

Check out the Globe’s website here for more details and here for Shakespeare’s Playground – a special section of the website developed just for children.

Address: Shakespeare’s Globe, 21 New Globe Walk, London, SE1 9DT

Kate x


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