Where to sit/stand at the Globe Theatre?
May 5, 2016 8:18 AM   Subscribe

I'm planning to see "Macbeth" at the Globe Theatre this summer, where I've never been, and I want the best seats in the house. What are those?

I want the clearest view and the best acoustics. I'm willing to pay for the pricier gallery seats -- but I'm also undaunted by the prospect of standing next to the stage with the "yard" tickets if that will afford the best audiovisual experience. Will it?

If gallery is the way to go -- which level?

Thanks in advance.
posted by eugenen to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I've been to both, and if you ask me, nothing beats the experience of being a groundling. That said, the view can definitely be challenging, depending on your height and how crowded it is.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:41 AM on May 5, 2016

Go as a groundling, it is a million times better than even the very expensive seats. When you're a groundling, you're not watching the play, you're experiencing it, and it is RIVETING. They encourage the groundlings to get a bit into it for historical authenticity so there's lots of gasping and laughing and it's just hella fun and there is no better way to experience Shakespeare than as a groundling at the Globe.

I'm only 5'2" and I had no trouble seeing as a groundling; I was pretty close to the stage but not right up in front.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:00 AM on May 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

I've done both and I would highly recommend sitting. When we stood, it was a hot day and someone near us fainted. You are not allowed to lean against the walls if you are standing. It is a long time to stand still in one place and next time I go I'm going with the gallery and a cushion. Anywhere in the gallery is good, but I would go for front row centre if possible.
posted by drunkonthemoon at 9:04 AM on May 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Groundling. I saw "As You Like It" last summer and as Jaques was saying, "All the world's a stage..." a Groundling wasn't paying attention and Jaques threw the apple he had been eating at him.

If you can, stand against a wall so you can lean. It can get uncomfortable.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 9:14 AM on May 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

I saw Twelfth Night in 2003 at the Globe as a groundling. It was one of the transcendent theater experiences of my life - I really felt lost in the show in a way I've rarely felt since. I honestly forgot I was standing, watching a play by the end.

That said, the weather was mild and I was like 20 with no mobility issues, so if weather or being able to stand for a long period would cause problems, I wouldn't feel bad going for seats to avoid being distracted by heat/foot pain/whatnot.
posted by augustimagination at 9:55 AM on May 5, 2016

I loved my experience as a groundling. We got there early and stood outside the groundling entrance to save our spot in line, then surged inside and got right up by the front, center stage. They didn't say anything about us touching/leaning against the front of the stage, IIRC, but maybe we just got lucky. I probably would have been much less happy if we hadn't gotten right in front, as I'm very short. You do have to be OK with standing throughout the performance--people sometimes sat on the ground during intermission but no one wanted to leave much or risk losing their prime spot. And note that it will happen rain or shine, so bring rain gear (not an umbrella) if you plan to stand and there is a risk of inclement weather. The seats have roof cover but the center where groundlings stand is open to the sky.

I would guess that the gallery would be the safest option. Groundling will either be awesome or kind of miserable depending on your experience. But I had an awesome experience.
posted by spelunkingplato at 9:57 AM on May 5, 2016

We sat in the gallery when we went last summer. While I understand where the "Groundling" comments are coming from, personally, I was more than glad to have a place to sit and a rented cushion to sit on, especially as the evening wore on.
posted by briank at 10:17 AM on May 5, 2016

Groundling, no question here. If you're going to a matinee, and especially if it's a hot day, take water, a hat and a fan with you.
posted by snakeling at 10:33 AM on May 5, 2016

I vote for sit and get a cushion if you sit! Too long for me stand up.
posted by feste at 10:47 AM on May 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Stood in the stalls in 2001 for Cymbeline, and it was wonderful. My friend who came with me couldn't stand that long, though, and ended up going to the medical station. Also, it rained. In August. They had cheap rain parkas there with Shakespeare quotes on them, which was cool. The rain didn't take away from it too much for me. Just worried about my friend!

Sat in the queen's box (sounds dirty, I know) in 2005 for Pericles and it was marvelous. That show involved aerialists, though, so there was an incentive to be higher up. It was in the fall and there was no rain.

They were both outstanding productions. I don't think you'll go wrong.
posted by Pearl928 at 11:16 AM on May 5, 2016

I've only sat in the gallery; but I went in August a few years ago to watch Titus Andronicus and I lost count of the number of groundlings who had to be removed because they fainted, either through heat or gore or both.

I also stood once for a performance at the Proms at the age of about twenty five and it was one of the most tedious and event-ruining experiences - everything hurt after two hours and eventually the whole standing section just went "fuck it" and sat down.

If you have a strong stomach and are physically able to stand for hours at a time because you are some sort of endurance athlete, by all means get groundling tickets; but TBH you'll enjoy the whole thing much more if you're sitting down in front row of the gallery and can see not only the play but the meta-play too (as often the Globe's physical staging plays around with the groundlings as well, which you can see much better from above).
posted by citands at 11:20 AM on May 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

I sat when I went years ago, and don't regret it. I stand for most live music shows I go to, and it really doesn't add anything to the experience. My motivation for sitting at the Globe was mostly being able to see.

Super enjoyable experience except that I ordered tea at the cafe beforehand, and they gave me Lipton. I'm convinced they give the crappy stuff to Americans because we don't know any better!
posted by cnc at 3:06 PM on May 5, 2016

Excellent May weather last year; saw Romeo & Juliet as a groundling directly in front of the stage, leaning on the stage. Transcendent.
posted by blob at 8:40 PM on May 5, 2016

Re: leaning on the stage - this may be allowed, but if you're not in the front row you cannot lean against the back or side walls. There were security people making sure - it must be a health & safety measure. Think carefully about standing upright in one spot for over two hours - especially if you have (like I had) been walking around London all day. (For reference, I was a young and fit 25 year old and it was still too much for my poor feet.)
posted by drunkonthemoon at 4:38 AM on May 6, 2016

you cannot lean against the back or side walls

QFT. Groundlings don't get to sit or lean against the walls. It can get uncomfortable, especially if you're not used to being on your feet that long, but very much worthwhile for the enhanced experience.

Wear super comfortable, "I don't care about fashion" shoes for this.

Also, the bookshop sells anime/comic versions of Shakespeare's work. If you know a kid or a teacher or someone who likes to read, they are worth it; I've never seen them for sale outside the theater.

Oh duh another trick: get a pair of super comfy insole things you jam into shoes. Put them on during intermission and it's like you've got new refreshed feet.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 5:33 AM on May 7, 2016

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