Entertainment & Arts

Globe's new Sam Wanamaker indoor theatre to be lit by candles

A CGI construction of how the Jacobean theatre will look
A CGI construction reveals how the Jacobean theatre will look

A new indoor theatre being built next to Shakespeare's Globe in London is to be named after the Globe's founder Sam Wanamaker.

The team behind the project have revealed that plays at the new theatre will be predominantly lit by candles.

The venue is intended to be the most complete recreation yet of an indoor Jacobean theatre.

Dominic Dromgoole, the Globe's artistic director, said the project was "a leap into the unknown".

The 340-seat theatre, which is scheduled to stage its first public performances in January 2014, will enable the Globe to offer live theatre throughout the year.

This is because the open-air Globe theatre only stages productions from April to October.

US director Wanamaker always intended the Bankside site to have a second, indoor space alongside its open-air playhouse.

Wanamaker, the father of My Family star Zoe, died in 1993 at the age of 74.

When the Globe complex opened in 1997, the indoor theatre was left as a shell and has served as workshop and rehearsal studios.

Now construction is fully under way, but another £1m needs to be raised to meet the £7.5m cost of the project, which receives no government subsidy.

Dromgoole said the Sam Wanamaker Theatre would allow the Globe "to continue its experimental vision of going back to the future".

Sam Wanamaker with daughter Zoe in 1991
Sam Wanamaker, pictured with daughter Zoe in 1991, had planned for an indoor Globe theatre

"We are doing it as an experiment, a leap into the unknown," he said at a launch event for the Jacobean theatre.

Dr Farah Karim-Cooper, who chairs the Globe's Architecture Research Group, said: "Our goal is to build a theatre Shakespeare might recognise."

The first season of plays will not be announced until April 2013. Future productions are likely to include works by Jacobean dramatists such as Thomas Middleton (The Changeling) and John Webster (The Duchess of Malfi).

Plays in the indoor venue will run from October to April, with other events over the summer, such as early chamber music and opera.

Dromgoole said there would be "a range of ticket prices" with prices starting at £10 for standing tickets.

He said that the performances would be "largely, if not entirely, candle-lit".

Oliver Heywood, the theatre's senior architect, revealed that one of the key challenges had been "getting the London Fire Brigade to agree to the use of up to 100 candles in a dark wooden theatre".

Professor Martin White, a leading scholar in theatre lighting, said health and safety officers were "enthusiastic" about the project.

He said that a system for controlling the candles was built into the structure of Jacobean plays.

Members of the team behind the new indoor venue at Shakespeare"s Globe gather to pose for a group photograph for the media during a publicity event in London
Construction for the theatre is under way, with the first play set for January 2014

"The plays are divided into acts to enable the company to manage the candles, so they can be trimmed or replaced as part of the rhythm of the performance," he said.

Dromgoole added: "We've got a good [safety] record because we were granted the right to build the first thatched roof [in London] since the Great Fire of London, so they've made a special exception for us before."

The design of the theatre is based on a series of drawings found at Worcester College Oxford in the 1960s, believed to be the earliest set of designs for an English theatre in existence.

Marcus Coles, the new theatre's fundraising ambassador, said: "Entering this timber hand-crafted candle-lit intimate space will be like tripping into the 1600s."

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