Sunday 16 October 2016
This is a tribute to my brother Gareth James “the barefoot blacksmith” who passed away in April this year. http://youtu.be/ZnO_4KbGbu8
We took a stroll from our hotel on Charlotte Street down to the banks of the Thames, passing the Royal Opera House, Covent Gardens and Somerset House. Crossing the Waterloo bridge, as one looks up and down the Thames, the many buildings, old and new, blend in to make this iconic thriving city.
A short stroll down river is the replica Globe theatre. Opened in 1997 it is a replica of the original theatre which was situated three minutes walk away and back a little further from the river. The gates are situated facing the river. Initiated by Richard Quinnell, MB, it was part of the architect, Theo Crosby’s, vision that the Globe should be a place of traditional craftwork – timber framework, lime plaster, thatch-work and blacksmithing.
Some one hundred and thirty blacksmiths from 14 country’s took part in making the gates. Attached to the gates are one hundred and thirty Shakespearian characters all sculpted out of wrought iron. On the top centre of the left hand gate as one faces the Thames is a mermaid. This was created in New Zealand by Gareth James, Blacksmith.
After admiring the gates, we took a tour of the theatre. Our guide, Ali, was brilliant, adding considerable wit and humour as she described both the history of the old theatre and the construction of the new one.
This is theatre number three. The first one, with its thatched roof, was built in 1599. In 1613 it burnt down when some bright spark fired a cannon from the loft as part of the special effects for a play. The sparks from the blank round set the thatched roof on fire. Incredibly, with half the exits they have today and some 3000 people packed in, they all got out alive.
A new theatre was built in 1614 with a tile roof. It was later dismantled and moved as the landlord wanted the land back.
This is from Wikipedia: “In September 1642 the Long Parliament ordered a closure of the London theatres. The order cited the current “times of humiliation” and their incompatibility with “public stage-plays”, representative of “lascivious Mirth and Levity”. The ban, which was not completely effective, was reinforced by an Act of 11 February 1648. It provided for the treatment of actors as rogues, the demolition of theatre seating, and fines for spectators.“
This modern theatre, with its large exits, no cannons, and fire sprinklers in the roof thatch, is limited to 1600 people. The theatre only operates during the summer as it did back in the day. There is a winter theatre next door, which only holds 300. It is lit by candles as was the original one where Shakespeare played out his winters.