This spectacular theater is a replica of Shakespeare's open-roof, wood-and-thatch Globe Playhouse (built in 1599 and burned down in 1613), where most of the Bard's greatest works premiered. American actor and director Sam Wanamaker worked ceaselessly for several decades to raise funds for the theater's reconstruction 200 yards from its original site, using authentic materials and techniques, a dream that was realized in 1997. "Groundlings" (patrons with £5 standing-only tickets) are not allowed to sit during the performance. Fortunately, you can reserve an actual seat on any one of the theater's three levels, but you will want to rent a cushion for £1 (or bring your own) to soften the backless wooden benches. The show must go on, rain or shine, warm or chilly, so come prepared for anything. Umbrellas are banned, but you can bring a raincoat or buy a cheap Globe rain poncho, which doubles as a great souvenir. In the winter months, the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, a 350-seat re-creation
of an indoor Jacobean theater lighted by candles, offers plays and concerts in a less exposed though still atmospheric setting.
Shakespeare's Globe Exhibition, a museum under the theater (the entry is adjacent), provides background material on Shakespeare's life, the London in which he lived, the original Elizabethan Globe, and the construction of the modern version. Admission to the museum also includes a 30-minute tour of the theater (tours leave every half hour 9:30–5, mornings only during the performance season). On matinee days in summer (there are no winter matinees), tours of the archaeological remains of the nearby Rose Theatre, the oldest theatre in Bankside, may be offered instead. There are also tours of the Wanamaker every half-hour between 1 and 5, depending on the performance schedule. On days when no tours are available, the Exhibition has reduced price admission (check the website).