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Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

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A meticulously researched archetype of an indoor Jacobean theatre.

The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse opened at Shakespeare’s Globe in January 2014. It is a meticulously researched archetype of a Jacobean theatre, modelled on the Blackfriars Theatre of Shakespeare’s day and a number of other Jacobean buildings. The Playhouse has a seating capacity of 340 and a green-oak and softwood interior, decorated with a ceiling mural. It is equipped with modern lighting but almost all productions are lit exclusively by beeswax candles, placed around the theatre in chandeliers and sconces and carried by the performers.

The Playhouse was part of the original conception by Sam Wanamaker, founder of the Shakespeare’s Globe Trust. The theatre design, created by Jon Greenfield in collaboration with Allies and Morrison, was based on two 17th-century drawings discovered in the 1960s – prospective designs now thought to be the work of Inigo Jones’s pupil John Webb dating from around 1660, and the earliest known surviving English designs for an indoor theatre. The Playhouse offers London a unique theatre and concert venue, and has provided an invaluable arena for Globe Education programmes and for further research into Shakespeare’s theatres.

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