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Sam Wanamaker: Bringing Shakespeare back to Bankside

In 1949, when Sam Wanamaker came to London for the first time, he looked for the site of the original Globe and was disappointed not to find a more lasting memorial to one of the greatest playwrights in the world. While many said that the Globe reconstruction was impossible to achieve, he persevered for over twenty years, overcoming a series of monumental obstacles and in 1970 he founded the Shakespeare Globe Trust, dedicated to the experience and international understanding of Shakespeare in performance and a final attempt to build a faithful recreation of Shakespeare's Globe close to its original Bankside location.

In 1987, building work began on site when the six-metre deep foundations were laid. Two years later during a routine exploratory excavation held in the interval between site clearance and re-development of an office block, the nearby Rose and shortly after, the Globe itself, were discovered by archaeologists. These two finds greatly influenced the final design of the modern Globe, which was completed by 1996. Sadly, Sam Wanamaker died on 18 December 1993 when only twelve of the fifteen bays had been erected.

The Globe theatre was opened by Her Majesty the Queen in June 1997. The centre however is far from complete. When it's finished, it will include another theatre to designs of Inigo Jones and a major educational centre.

The rebuilding of the Globe stimulated the idea of culture and heritage-led attractions and in 1980 the Bankside Gallery opened.

Today the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse is a gloriously atmospheric candlelit theatre, showcasing a range of productions all year long.