In London, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to an American, Sam Wanamaker.
Lots of visitors to London enjoy our thriving theatre culture. You don’t have to go far to find something to suit your tastes.
But for me, one of my favourite theatres exists thanks to Wanamaker, a visionary who overcame no little opposition to rebuild Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre on Bankside.
It’s not like any other theatre I have ever been to. The closest would be Regent’s Park Open Air, also a great place, but the Globe is Special, and that capitalisation is deliberate.
This afternoon I was there to see As You Like It.
What a treat.
Groundling tickets cost just £5, a bargain in any language.
The Globe has forced actors and directors to relearn how to practise their craft. The theatre makes its own demands, and the audience, especially those frugal groundlings, become part of the play. There is an immediacy, a connection between actors and audience that is unique.
A few years ago, I was involved in an education project with the Globe. Exhilarating is an understatement. If you look hard in the bookshop, you may find my two page contribution to a volume about Globe education.
The play at the heart of the project was As You Like It.
There was no way I was going to miss the chance to see it at the Globe this summer.