Shakespeare might have been born in Stratford, died in Stratford ... but he really lived here in London. - tour guide, 1990Twenty-four years ago as a young student taking a holiday university tour to England, on a rainy December morning, I witnessed a most unimpressive sight. A sooty plaque on the wall of a post-war factory building, indicating that the Globe Theatre, the very stage for which William Shakespeare had written his plays, was at one point in history around here, somewhere.
At that moment in time, there was also located nearby two large holes in the ground. Pits, really. One was the excavation site of the Globe's smaller competitor, the foundation of the recently-unearthed Rose Theatre.
And perhaps more significantly, another short walk down the south bank of the Thames, was a great muddy, vacant mouth, the groundwork for the as-yet unbuilt Shakespeare's Globe. Whether it ever would be built was even then uncertain. There were many at that time who found such a building project elitist and in fact entirely unnecessary.
Regardless, what they found at the Rose was auspiciously timed to excited the imagination about this new Globe, and also to provide valuable data on original construction. And if there is thing I hope to show in my new work The Great Globe Itself is the trajectory from Cleveland to that plaque to that sloppy hole in the ground.