The Indoor Jacobean Theatre at Shakespeare's Globe Named Sam Wanamaker Theatre
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by BWW News Desk
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
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.
Artistic Director Dominic Dromgoole said: "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".
Chair of the Architecture Research Group (ARG) Dr Farah Karim-Cooper said: "This theatre will allow us finally to achieve Sam's mission to build both types of theatre Shakespeare worked in so that, through performance and research, we can continue to discover how these plays worked in their original environment".
Chief Executive of Shakespeare's Globe Neil Constable said: "We are thrilled at the generosity of our supporters to this unique and groundbreaking project. The reconstruction of the indoor theatre takes us another step closer to achieving Sam Wanamaker's vision, enabling the Globe to present theatre performances across 52 weeks of the year, within yet another beautiful and rarely seen theatre space. I know it will also prove an invaluable arena for Globe Education programmes and further research into Shakespeare theatres. We look forward to our many national and international supporters joining us on the next stage of the Globe's remarkable journey."
Oliver Heywood, Project Associate Architect for The Sam Wanamaker Theatre and Globe foyer redevelopment said: "We are thrilled to be part of the team delivering the new Indoor Jacobean Theatre and foyer redevelopment. The design process has been a rich and rewarding experience, having been given the privilege of collaborating with the world's leading scholars, historians and craftsmen; a fruitful process that should be credited to the clear vision and drive of Shakespeare's Globe."