Meeting visitors of all ages and nationalities, then showing them around the Globe Theatre, is an incredibly satisfying endeavour.
Hello, I’m Anthony Lewis; tour-guide, video-historian, voiceover artist and recently, Globe Guide trainer.
I joined the Globe family eight years ago. Originally, this stemmed from a love of Shakespeare and enjoying the Globe productions so much. As the years rolled by, I ultimately became passionate about history, architecture and human endeavour. As well as keeping abreast of the current theatre season (the ‘Justice and Mercy’ season is nearing its glittering final call), I can also be found studying timber-framed buildings in Suffolk, making history documentaries and contributing to the rich online world of heritage blogs and podcasts.
Tour guiding is a rather exacting science. It blends together the disciplines of raconteur, historian, traffic warden, stand-up comedian and security guard. Possibly the opposite of a desk job, the chance to work outside (even when ‘in’ the theatre) is certainly welcome and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting people from all over the world, including, conjoined twins, footballers, Lords and Ladies, even Prince Philip!
A typical guiding day at the Globe begins with a briefing by the Duty Manager of all the activities taking place in the theatre. What makes the Globe particularly challenging to guide is the dynamic environment of the theatre itself. As the shared focal point of a major performance venue, educational facility, cultural hub and tourist attraction; the Globe is an incredibly vibrant, ever-changing space. A given day in the theatre may have rehearsals in progress, photocalls, interviews, costume tests, fight training or the spectacle of a lavish set under construction. Not to mention a plethora of other tours in progress at the same time – public groups, tour parties and schools of all ages, nationalities and requirements.
That the Globe is a bustling space is an understatement! But for all the logistical challenges this presents; it’s also a thrilling, kinetic and inspiring environment. True to Sam Wanamaker’s original remit of this being a working theatre and not a rarefied museum piece.
It means that there’s no such thing as a ‘standard tour’ and no chance of ever guiding a tour on auto-pilot. While this ensures that each tour is a unique experience, it also means I have had to take extra care to be adaptable and versatile: modifying the tour routes and content on the fly, as well as responding to events in a value-enhancing manner. Witnessing a ‘Lively Action’ school workshop on stage, for example, becomes a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate Globe Education, our community outreach and the sheer fun of having some young Shakespeare actors in action on the Globe stage!
The next step of a guiding shift at the Globe is to report to a member of staff called Tour Point. It is their job to assign daily activities to each guide. That means a varied rotation of tasks -along with traditional theatre tours; a guide may find themselves performing all manner of demonstrations to entertain our visitors.
Clothing demonstrations are a fun way to involve visitors; inviting audience members to take the exhibition stage and then dressing them up in Elizabethan garb. The Ophelia costume from ‘Hamlet’ is an opportunity to demonstrate the full range of fashions on the taller women (and men!) in the audience, while the Mopsa outfit from ‘The Winter’s Tale’ illustrates the resourcefulness of Elizabethan working folk in their attempts to replicate the fashions of the court.
I helped write and create the Printing Press demonstrations: another fun activity the tour guides host. Using a working replica of an Elizabethan Printing Press, I enjoy creating ‘quarto’ format pages of Henry V; demonstrating movable type, the compositing stick and the true reasons behind the strange, inconsistent spelling of the Elizabethan age.
As well as the main Globe experience, there are two other tours for more advanced areas of interest. The Bankside Tour takes guests to the other Shakespearean sites along Bankside; including the original site, the locations of the bear-baiting arenas and the archaeological site of the Rose Playhouse - where Shakespeare had his first plays performed. The other type of tour is to the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse where visitors can enter our new Jacobean-style indoor theatre.
In recent years, I have had the honour of recruiting and training new Globe Guides. It is with pride I send them off to lead inspiring tours to visitors from around the world. As they continue to experience the Globe’s varied activities, they’ll soon be gaining wonderful new experiences and anecdotes to enrich their tours even further!
Please click the link below for The Globe Theatres video:
This excursion departs with Woods Coaches on Thursday 19th November 2015. Please click here to book.