Shakespeare’s Globe has received a £1.5 million gift from an anonymous private donor for a matched-giving scheme to help the Globe reach its fund-raising target of £7 million toward construction of a new Indoor Jacobean Theatre. Every pound raised by the Globe will be matched from the £1.5 million pool, bringing the fund-raising total to £4.5 million.
“Our wonderfully generous anonymous donor has given this money to enable us to complete the indoor theater, but also by doubling donations we receive, we hope that this will encourage others to support this important project,” said Neil Constable, Shakespeare’s Globe chief executive. “Building starts in October at the end of the Globe’s summer season, so we'd really like to rally the support of our audiences and supporters and ask everyone to get involved at whatever level to ensure works start on time."
The Indoor Jacobean Theatre will be the newest addition to London’s theater landscape, and it will be the most complete re-creation of an English renaissance indoor theater yet attempted. The Globe intends to open the theater with its first, programmed winter season in November 2013. The Indoor Theatre will seat approximately 320 people, with two tiers of galleried seating and a historically accurate pit seating area, which will provide a uniquely intimate and intense theater experience.
Some of Shakespeare’s greatest plays—The Tempest, Cymbeline, and The Winter’s Tale—were written for an entirely different space to the outdoor Elizabethan playhouses like the Globe Theatre. By restoring the Indoor Jacobean Theatre to its intended purpose, the Globe will be able to further its understanding of theater practices at Shakespeare's time and explore the unique relationship between actor and audience in England’s earliest indoor theaters.
Said Zoe Wanamaker, CBE, honorary president of Shakespeare’s Globe and daughter of Sam Wanamaker: “The Indoor Jacobean Theatre is another step toward realizing what was in Sam’s head. It is a wonderful thing in this day and age to build a new theater, a continuum in our culture, which perpetuates literature and art and performance, and encourages an exploration into the unfolding of British drama.”
Designs for the Indoor Jacobean Theatre are based around a set of plans discovered in the 1960s in the collection of Worcester College Library in Oxford. The designs show a small 17th century indoor theater with a U-shaped, galleried auditorium embracing a platform stage. These plans—originally thought to be drawn by celebrated Renaissance architect Inigo Jones, though now thought to be by his protégé John Webb—are the earliest plans in existence for an English theater, and remain the best indication of the nature of an Indoor Jacobean Theatre.
Since its opening in 1997, Shakespeare’s Globe has become a success story beyond all expectations. As well as providing an endless series of insights into Shakespeare’s plays and performance practices, it has proved hugely popular, playing to sell-out audiences throughout the summer and running an internationally renowned education program. The Indoor Jacobean Theatre will provide a second stage, allowing theater productions to play throughout the winter, widening the Globe’s repertoire and further completing the understanding of the nature of Jacobean theater. It will also prove an invaluable arena for Globe Education programs and further research into Shakespeare’s theaters.
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.
March 2, 2012