Named after the organisation's founder, pioneering American actor and director Sam Wanamaker, The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse will allow Shakespeare's Globe to present plays throughout the year, to expand the repertoire of work it presents, to investigate indoor theatre practice and to stage Jacobean plays in their intended atmosphere.
The playhouse seats 340 people with two tiers of galleried seating and a pit seating area. The theatre is predominantly lit by candles and the finished edifice has been designed with careful research into the materials, methods and the decorative asthetics of Jacobean buildings. Candlelight formed an essential component of Shakespearean drama and every performance will be lit by approximately 150 candles, and in many cases the cast will carry their own candles.
"The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse offers us a unique opportunity to explore the theatre practice of Shakespeare's day and the theatrical context within which he worked"
This is the first theatre in the world built as a response to a series of drawings found in the late 1960s - the earliest set of design drawings for an English theatre in existence - thought to be by early 17th Century English architect John Webb.
Designed by Allies and Morrison using painstaking research into materials, methods and decorative aesthetics of Jacobean architecture and interiors, the playhouse has been inserted into a steel and brick envelope built in 1997 as part of the original Globe reconstruction. They were assisted by reconstruction architect John Greenfield of NPS, timber specialist Peter McCurdy and the Architectural Research Group within the Globe. Built using centuries-old techniques by specialist conservation contractors Virtus, it is an archetype rather than a replica of a specific Jacobean theatre.