Shakespeare's Globe theater faces permanent closure due to Covid-19 lockdown

Amy WoodyattPublished 19th May 2020
London / UK - March 19th 2020: Outside the closed Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London, a popular tourist destination is empty as people are told to self isolate during the COVID-19 coronavirus
(CNN) — William Shakespeare's Globe theater, the famous London playhouse where the playwright's shows were performed, faces permanent closure as a result of coronavirus lockdown measures, the theater and UK politicians have warned.
Lawmakers on Monday warned the UK government that the historic theater -- which has been closed since March due to coronavirus restrictions -- was faced with "insolvency and closure" as a result of Covid-19 lockdown's impact on its finances.
The original Globe theater was built by Shakespeare's company, the Lord Chamberlain's Men, in 1599, but was destroyed by fire in 1613.
Audience members watch a production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in Shakespeare's Globe theatre on the Southbank of the River Thames on July 16, 2013 in London, England.
Audience members watch a production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in Shakespeare's Globe theatre on the Southbank of the River Thames on July 16, 2013 in London, England.
Oli Scarff/Getty Images
A replica of the playhouse was built in 1997 just meters from the original site on the banks of the River Thames, with historical records used for guidance.
The theater is almost identical in appearance to the original, but with modern features such as a concrete theater pit and roof-based sprinklers.
The building has several features recreated just like the original Elizabethan structure -- Shakespeare's Globe has the first and only thatched roof permitted in London since the Great Fire of 1666.
Shakespeare designed many plays -- including "As You Like It," "Hamlet," "Twelfth Night," "King Lear," "Macbeth" and "Othello" -- for performance in the original structure.
But now, the theater has warned that the current closure poses the greatest threat to the playhouse's future since first opening.
The Globe's artistic director Michelle Terry said that the theater is not eligible for Arts Council funding, and that the playhouse was faced with having to "balance between surviving and serving" the community.
"A little bit like every freelancer, it's very hand to mouth. We're completely dependent on income from ticket sales and everything -- retail, education workshops," she told BBC radio on Tuesday.
"So when that income stops we have the few reserves we've got in the bank -- it's sort of like whatever savings you've got -- that's how long you'll last, really."
Lawmaker Julian Knight, who chairs the UK's digital, culture, media and sport committee, warned that the closure of the playhouse would be a "tragedy."
"Shakespeare's Globe is a world-renowned institution and not only part of our national identity, but a leading example of the major contribution the arts make to our economy. For this national treasure to succumb to Covid-19 would be a tragedy," he said.