Today, Shakespeare's Globe unveiled the official name of their new indoor theatre as The Sam Wanamaker Theatre. The space is named after the organisation's founder, pioneering American actor and director Sam Wanamaker. Also announced were the full team behind this unique performance and research space as well as plans for foyer redevelopment to enhance the on-site experience for visitors.
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.
Scheduled to stage its first performances to the public in January 2014, 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.
The team assembled to achieve this includes:
- Dr Farah Karim-Cooper, leading the Globe's Architecture Research Group (ARG), a unique assembly of Shakespeare, Early Theatre and Architecture Scholars
- Professor Martin White, the world's leading scholar in theatre lighting
- Allies and Morrison, the lead architects for the new theatre and foyer redevelopment, who previously oversaw the redevelopment of the Southbank Centre
- Peter McCurdy, the celebrated 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
- Virtus, who will be the main contractor carrying out the building work
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.
Sam Wanamaker's vision for the Globe extended beyond the Globe - one of the most iconic and atmospheric performance spaces in London. In addition to a purpose-built education centre, he also intended there to be 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 realisation of this archetypal Jacobean indoor performance space based on plans developed through exhaustive research led by the ARG.
The first programmed season of work will commence in January 2014, and from then on the Globe will offer theatre throughout the year, an opportunity for visitors to complement the Globe with an early indoor theatre, and another space to allow Globe Education to expand its internationally renowned research and education programmes during the summer months.
A successful fundraising campaign by Shakespeare's Globe has enabled the project to be developed thus far without any government support. Today sees the launch of the public campaign to raise the final £1m needed to create this important addition to London's theatre landscape. Donations can be made online, at the Globe, or via post or phone. To find out more about making a donation, visit shakespearesglobe.com/support-us or contact the campaign office on 020 7902 1457.