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Visit Shakespeare's London

Published: Monday 23rd of August 2010

If you think of a place where you can find out about William Shakespeare, you will probably think of heading to Stratford-upon-Avon.

But England's most famous and celebrated playwright made his name in London, and plenty of places in the city are closely associated with this iconic figure.

Perhaps the best place to find out about him is Shakespeare's Globe - a recreation of the venue where many of his greatest plays were performed in the 16th and 17th centuries.

The original theatre was destroyed by fire back in 1613, but American actor and director Sam Wanamaker was not content to let it exist only in history.

For more than two decades, he worked tirelessly on creating an accurate replica of the original Globe and eventually he succeeded.

Today's Globe, which opened to the public back in 1996, stands only a stone's throw away from its original location in Bankside, Southwark.

Created using authentic period techniques, the theatre is a monument to a bygone era that stages productions every summer.

To keep it as accurate as possible, the attention to period detail extends far beyond the construction methods.

Whereas modern theatres have amplification, microphones, spotlights and other forms of technology, theatregoers who come to Shakespeare's Globe will find actors performing exactly as they would have done back in Elizabethan times.

Keen Shakespeare enthusiasts and newcomers alike will feel as if they are being transported back in time when one of the playwright's classic productions takes to the stage.

If you are visiting London during the winter, you can still find plenty to enjoy here.

Indeed, the theatre hosts a fascinating exhibition which tells the story of Shakespeare in a fresh and stimulating way.

Visitors can also learn about what London was like during the era in which he worked, as well as the story behind how the Globe was miraculously restored to life.

And if you opt to take the guided tour, you will be shown firsthand how the talented actors, producers and directors bring stories such as Hamlet and Macbeth to the stage.

You will get a close-up peek at all the production techniques that are used to create stunning effects such as thunder and lightning, and how they make the illusion of people being hanged.

Visitors should also particularly enjoy seeing how the actors' costumes are designed, made and fitted for productions at the Globe.

The craftsmanship and the attention to detail are truly remarkable, so it is definitely worth taking a close look.

Another fascinating aspect of the tour is seeing how the musical soundtrack to each show is created.

Live musicians play along with the actors during every performance, exactly as they would have done back in the Elizabethan era.

On this tour, you can get up close to the period instruments and even have a go at blasting out a few tunes and creating staggeringly realistic sound effects yourself.

A trip to Shakespeare's Globe is an educational, entertaining and evocative experience.

You will feel as if you have travelled back in time and got to know the greatest playwright in history and his work better than you would ever have thought possible.

London in the 21st century is still a hotbed of theatrical activity, but every once in a while, it doesn't hurt to look back to where it all started.

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