Take a Virtual Tour of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London

The sto­ry of the Globe The­atre, the ances­tral home of Shakespeare’s plays, is itself very Shake­speare­an, in all of the ways we use that adjec­tive: it has deep roots in Eng­lish his­to­ry, a trag­ic back­sto­ry, and rep­re­sents all of the hodge­podge of Lon­don, in the ear­ly 17th cen­tu­ry and today, with the city’s col­or­ful street life, min­gling of inter­na­tion­al cul­tures, high and low, and its delight in the play and inter­play of lan­guages.

“The first pub­lic play­hous­es,” notes the British Library, “were built in Lon­don in the late 1500s. The­atres were not per­mit­ted with­in the bound­aries of the City itself”—theater not being con­sid­ered a respectable art—”but were tol­er­at­ed in the out­er dis­tricts of Lon­don, such as South­wark, where the Globe was locat­ed. South­wark was noto­ri­ous for its noisy, chaot­ic enter­tain­ments and for its sleazy low-life: its the­atres, broth­els, bear bait­ing pits, pick­pock­ets and the like.”

The Globe began its life in 1599, in a sto­ry that “might be wor­thy,” writes the Shake­speare Resource Cen­ter, “of a Shake­speare­an play of its own.” Built from the tim­bers of the city’s first per­ma­nent the­ater, the Burbage, which opened in 1576, the Globe burned down in 1613 “when a can­non shot dur­ing a per­for­mance of Hen­ry VIII ignit­ed the thatched roof in the gallery.” With­in the year, it was rebuilt on the same foun­da­tions (with a tiled roof) and oper­at­ed until the Puri­tans shut it down in 1642, demol­ish­ing the famed open-air the­ater two years lat­er.

In a twist to this so far very Eng­lish tale, it took the tire­less efforts of an expa­tri­ate Amer­i­can, actor-direc­tor Sam Wana­mak­er, to bring the Globe back to Lon­don. After more than two decades of advo­ca­cy, Wanamaker’s Globe Play­house Trust suc­ceed­ed in recre­at­ing the Globe, just a short dis­tance from the orig­i­nal loca­tion. Open­ing in 1997, three-hun­dred and fifty-five years after the first Globe closed, the new Globe The­atre recre­at­ed all of the orig­i­nal’s archi­tec­tur­al ele­ments.

The stage projects into the cir­cu­lar court­yard, designed for stand­ing spec­ta­tors and sur­round­ed by three tiers of seats. While the stage itself has an elab­o­rate paint­ed roof, and the seat­ing is pro­tect­ed from the weath­er by the only thatched roof in Lon­don since the 1666 Great Fire, the theater’s court­yard is open to the sky. How­ev­er, where the orig­i­nal Globe held about 2,000 stand­ing and 1,000 seat­ed play­go­ers, the recre­ation, notes Time­Out Lon­don, holds only about half that num­ber.

Still, the­ater-goers can “get a rich feel for what it was like to be a ‘groundling’ (the stand­ing rab­ble at the front of the stage) in the cir­cu­lar, open-air the­atre.” Short of that, we can tour the Globe in the vir­tu­al recre­ation at the top of the post. Move around in any direc­tion and look up at the sky. As you do, click on the tiny cir­cles to reveal facts such as “Prob­a­bly the first Shake­speare play to be per­formed at the Globe was Julius Cae­sar, in 1599,” and videos like Mark Antony’s famous “friends, Romans, coun­try­men” speech, per­formed at the Globe, above.

If you don’t have the lux­u­ry of vis­it­ing the new Globe, tak­ing a tour, or see­ing a per­for­mance lov­ing­ly-recre­at­ed with all of the cos­tum­ing (and even pro­nun­ci­a­tion) from Jacobean Eng­land, you can get the fla­vor of this won­drous achieve­ment in bring­ing cul­tur­al his­to­ry into the present with the vir­tu­al tour, also avail­able as an app for iPhone and iPad users. This inter­ac­tive tour super­sedes a pre­vi­ous ver­sion we fea­tured a few years back.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Hear What Ham­let, Richard III & King Lear Sound­ed Like in Shakespeare’s Orig­i­nal Pro­nun­ci­a­tion

The 1,700+ Words Invent­ed by Shake­speare*

What Shakespeare’s Hand­writ­ing Looked Like

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

Sir Ian McKellen Releases New Apps to Make Shakespeare’s Plays More Enjoyable & Accessible

tempest app

FYI: Ian McK­ellen, who first made his rep­u­ta­tion per­form­ing at the Roy­al Shake­speare Com­pa­ny in the 1970s and 80s, has just released the first of a series of iPad apps meant to make Shake­speare’s plays more acces­si­ble, espe­cial­ly for high school and col­lege stu­dents.

As McK­ellen explains above, Shake­speare’s plays were orig­i­nal­ly meant to be seen per­formed live in a the­atre, not read as books. And so these apps fea­ture actors per­form­ing dra­mat­ic scenes from the plays, while text scrolls by. They’ve just launched the first of 37 apps. It’s devot­ed to The Tem­pest, runs $5.99 on iTunes, and frankly seems well worth the price. Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch likes it. See below.

The app also includes these fea­tures:

  • The full text of The Tem­pest as pub­lished in the First Folio.
  • A full dig­i­tal ver­sion of Arden Shake­speare The Tem­pest.
  • The abil­i­ty to switch between three dif­fer­ent lev­els of notes depend­ing on the lev­el of reader’s needs.
  • A full break­down and expla­na­tion of every char­ac­ter and all of their lines across every scene.
  • A linked his­tor­i­cal time line of Shake­speare’s life, his plays, his the­atres, and con­tem­po­rary con­text to put it all into per­spec­tive.
  • Video expla­na­tions and dis­cus­sions by both Sir Ian McK­ellen and Pro­fes­sor Sir Jonathan Bate on char­ac­ters, themes, and the mean­ing of the play.
  • A full “play at a glance” with illus­tra­tions and sum­maries to explain the play’s plot with key quotes and events.
  • A his­to­ry of all the major pro­duc­tions of The Tem­pest from the 17th cen­tu­ry to the present day.
  • The option to make notes, copy and high­light text that can be col­lect­ed, cor­re­lat­ed and export­ed for lat­er use.
  • The option to search the play’s full text and essays.

Keep your eye on Heuris­tic Shake­speare’s iTunes site for new Shake­speare apps down the line.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Ian McK­ellen Stars in King Lear

Sir Ian McK­ellen Puts on a Daz­zling One-Man Shake­speare Show

A 68 Hour Playlist of Shakespeare’s Plays Being Per­formed by Great Actors: Giel­gud, McK­ellen & More

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Fill Your New Kindle, iPad, iPhone, eReader with Free eBooks, Movies, Audio Books, Online Courses & More


San­ta left a new Kin­dleiPad, Kin­dle Fire or oth­er media play­er under your tree. He did his job. Now we’ll do ours. We’ll tell you how to fill those devices with free intel­li­gent media — great books, movies, cours­es, and all of the rest. And if you did­n’t get a new gad­get, fear not. You can access all of these mate­ri­als on the good old fash­ioned com­put­er. Here we go:

Free eBooks: You have always want­ed to read the great works. And now is your chance. When you dive into our Free eBooks col­lec­tion you will find 700 great works by some clas­sic writ­ers (Dick­ens, Dos­to­evsky, Shake­speare and Tol­stoy) and con­tem­po­rary writ­ers (F. Scott Fitzger­ald, Philip K. Dick, Isaac Asi­mov, and Kurt Von­negut). The col­lec­tion also gives you access to the 51-vol­ume Har­vard Clas­sics.

If you’re an iPad/iPhone user, the down­load process is super easy. Just click the “iPad/iPhone” links and you’re good to go. Kin­dle and Nook users will gen­er­al­ly want to click the “Kin­dle + Oth­er For­mats links” to down­load ebook files, but we’d sug­gest watch­ing these instruc­tion­al videos (Kin­dle – Nook) before­hand.

Free Audio Books: What bet­ter way to spend your free time than lis­ten­ing to some of the great­est books ever writ­ten? This page con­tains a vast num­ber of free audio books — 630 works in total — includ­ing texts by Arthur Conan Doyle, James Joyce, Jane Austen, Edgar Allan Poe, George Orwell and more recent writ­ers — Ita­lo Calvi­no, Vladimir Nabokov, Ray­mond Carv­er, etc. You can down­load these clas­sic books straight to your gad­gets, then lis­ten as you go.

[Note: If you’re look­ing for a con­tem­po­rary book, you can down­load one free audio book from Audible.com. Find details on Audi­ble’s no-strings-attached deal here.]

Free Online Cours­es: This list brings togeth­er over 1100 free online cours­es from lead­ing uni­ver­si­ties, includ­ing Stan­ford, Yale, MIT, UC Berke­ley, Oxford and beyond.

These full-fledged cours­es range across all dis­ci­plines — his­to­ryphysicsphi­los­o­phypsy­chol­o­gy, busi­ness, and beyond. Most all of these cours­es are avail­able in audio, and rough­ly 75% are avail­able in video. You can’t receive cred­its or cer­tifi­cates for these cours­es (click here for cours­es that do offer cer­tifi­cates). But the amount of per­son­al enrich­ment you will derive is immea­sur­able.

Free Movies: With a click of a mouse, or a tap of your touch screen, you will have access to 700 great movies. The col­lec­tion hosts many clas­sics, west­erns, indies, doc­u­men­taries, silent films and film noir favorites. It fea­tures work by some of our great direc­tors (Alfred Hitch­cock, Orson Welles, Andrei Tarkovsky, Stan­ley Kubrick, Jean-Luc Godard and David Lynch) and per­for­mances by cin­e­ma leg­ends: John Wayne, Jack Nichol­son, Audrey Hep­burn, Char­lie Chap­lin, and beyond. On this one page, you will find thou­sands of hours of cin­e­ma bliss.

Free Lan­guage Lessons: Per­haps learn­ing a new lan­guage is high on your list of New Year’s res­o­lu­tions. Well, here is a great way to do it. Take your pick of 46 lan­guages, includ­ing Span­ish, French, Ital­ian, Man­darin, Eng­lish, Russ­ian, Dutch, even Finnish, Yid­dish and Esperan­to. These lessons are all free and ready to down­load.

Free Text­books: And one last item for the life­long learn­ers among you. We have scoured the web and pulled togeth­er a list of 200 Free Text­books. It’s a great resource par­tic­u­lar­ly if you’re look­ing to learn math, com­put­er sci­ence or physics on your own. There might be a dia­mond in the rough here for you.

Thank San­ta, maybe thank us, and enjoy that new device.…

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

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Longform’s New, Free App Lets You Read Great Journalism from Your Favorite Publishers


If you have man­aged to keep your atten­tion span intact dur­ing this dis­tract­ing infor­ma­tion age, then you’re almost cer­tain­ly famil­iar with Longform.org, a web site that makes it easy to find some­thing great to read online, espe­cial­ly if you like read­ing infor­ma­tive, well-craft­ed works of non-fic­tion. Last week, Long­form enhanced its ser­vice with the release of a new, free app for iPhone and iPad. It’s the “only 100% free app that fil­ters out the inter­net junk and deliv­ers noth­ing but smart, in-depth reads.” And, draw­ing on mate­r­i­al from 1,000 pub­lish­ers, the app lets read­ers “cre­ate their own cus­tom feeds of high qual­i­ty, fea­ture-length jour­nal­ism,” and then read it all on the go. It’s a mis­sion that cer­tain­ly aligns with ours, so we’re more than hap­py to give the new app a plug.

Sign up for our dai­ly email and, once a day, we’ll bun­dle all of our dai­ly posts and drop them in your inbox, in an easy-to-read for­mat. You don’t have to come to us; we’ll come to you!

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Free Stanley Kubrick App Features Great Photos, Script Notes, Interviews & More

KubrickScreenIn 2012, the Los Ange­les Coun­ty Muse­um of Art (LACMA) unveiled a sprawl­ing, exhaus­tive exhib­it on Stan­ley Kubrick. And it had just about every­thing you might want on the great direc­tor. Ear­ly pho­tographs he took for Look mag­a­zine in the 1940s? Check. The blood soaked dress­es of those creepy twins from The Shin­ing? You got it! Sketch­es, notes and doc­u­ments about Napoleon, the great­est movie he nev­er made? They had a whole room for that. For those cinephiles who wor­ship at Kubrick’s altar, LACMA’s exhib­it was akin to a vis­it to the Vat­i­can. There were more holy relics there than you could shake a mono­lith at—oh, and they had one of those there too.

The exhib­it wrapped up in June 2013. If you missed it and you are jonesing for more Kubrick mem­o­ra­bil­ia, take heart — LACMA designed an app in con­junc­tion with the exhib­it for the iPhone, iPad and Android and you can down­load it right now. For free. The app is about as sprawl­ing as the exhib­it (and it will take a bit of time to down­load) but it fea­tures hand drawn notes from Kubrick, behind-the-scenes pic­tures from all of his movies, and inter­views with the direc­tor, plus ones with the likes of Elvis Mitchell, Christo­pher Nolan and Dou­glas Trum­bull.

The only thing that the app and the exhib­it didn’t cov­er is the ever-grow­ing num­ber of insane con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries sur­round­ing his work. Want some­thing about how The Shin­ing is real­ly about a faked moon land­ing or how Eyes Wide Shut is real­ly about the Illu­mi­nati? Look some­where else.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Stan­ley Kubrick’s Daugh­ter Shares Pho­tos of Her­self Grow­ing Up on Her Father’s Film Sets

Dark Side of the Moon: A Mock­u­men­tary on Stan­ley Kubrick and the Moon Land­ing Hoax

Stan­ley Kubrick’s Very First Films: Three Short Doc­u­men­taries — Free Online

Rare 1960s Audio: Stan­ley Kubrick’s Big Inter­view with The New York­er

Jonathan Crow is a Los Ange­les-based writer and film­mak­er whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hol­ly­wood Reporter, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. You can fol­low him at @jonccrow.

Free App Lets You Play Chess With 23-Year-Old Norwegian World Champion Magnus Carlsen

Chess has been expe­ri­enc­ing a sur­pris­ing revival as of late, with the World Cham­pi­onships mak­ing head­lines for the first time in  years. As it was dur­ing the days of Bob­by Fis­ch­er and lat­er Gar­ry Kas­parov, the resur­gence is large­ly the doing of one man: Norway’s 23-year-old chess phe­nom, Mag­nus Carlsen. After hav­ing attained the lev­el of a grand­mas­ter at the age of 13, Carlsen had a string of spec­tac­u­lar vic­to­ries that cul­mi­nat­ed in his win over India’s Viswanathan Anand in the world cham­pi­onships this past Novem­ber. Carlsen also holds the high­est rat­ing in the game’s his­to­ry. Oh, and he beat Bill Gates in 79 sec­onds (here’s a video). What’s next for the reign­ing king of chess? A free iOS chess app, of course.

The Mag­nus Plays app, which allows users to play against a sim­u­lat­ed Carlsen, was  released this past Tues­day. If you’re wor­ried that your tech­ni­cal prowess may not stack up against the new face of chess, don’t wor­ry: the app relies on a vast data­base of moves that Carlsen used through­out the years, allow­ing you to play him any­where from the ages of 5 to 23. I’m not a par­tic­u­lar­ly adept chess play­er, but I didn’t have too much trou­ble with Carlsen at his youngest. The vic­to­ry bol­stered my con­fi­dence, so I decid­ed to skip to Carlsen’s cur­rent 23-year-old self. As much as I’d like to dis­cuss the out­come of the sec­ond game, it’s prob­a­bly best to skim over the results. Suf­fice it to say that I have room for improve­ment. Luck­i­ly, the app also has a “Train With Me” sec­tion, where Carlsen pro­vides video tuto­ri­als (some free, and some paid) on how to improve your game. If you’re feel­ing like you’ve lost a few IQ points after repeat­ed bouts with Flap­py Bird, Mag­nus Plays is a great alter­na­tive.

via Kottke.org

Ilia Blin­d­er­man is a Mon­tre­al-based cul­ture and sci­ence writer. Fol­low him at @iliablinderman, or read more of his writ­ing at the Huff­in­g­ton Post.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch Bill Gates Lose a Chess Match in 79 Sec­onds to the New World Chess Cham­pi­on Mag­nus Carlsen

A Famous Chess Match from 1910 Reen­act­ed with Clay­ma­tion

Chess Rivals Bob­by Fis­ch­er and Boris Spassky Meet in the ‘Match of the Cen­tu­ry’

Free Interactive e‑Books from NASA Reveal History, Discoveries of the Hubble & Webb Telescopes


Ear­li­er this month NASA announced that the Hub­ble Space Tele­scope found evi­dence of a plan­et form­ing 7.5 bil­lion miles from its star. This aston­ish­ing dis­cov­ery chal­lenges all of our cur­rent the­o­ries about how plan­ets devel­op.

A few days lat­er, Hub­ble cap­tured images of two galax­ies merg­ing.

Hub­ble has been in orbit since 1990, col­lect­ing images with one of the largest and most ver­sa­tile tele­scopes designed for deep space. No sin­gle tool has done as much to advance astro­nom­i­cal pub­lic rela­tions in recent years.

Hubble’s devel­op­ment, launch and dis­cov­er­ies are the sub­ject of a new, free inter­ac­tive e‑book (best viewed on the iPad) that brings to life Hubble’s dis­tin­guished ser­vice as our eye on the uni­verse.


For almost as long as Hub­ble has been in space, NASA has been work­ing on the next gen­er­a­tion space tele­scope. The James Webb Space Tele­scope will fea­ture a mir­ror three times the size of Hubble’s. Once launched, the tele­scope will trav­el far beyond our Moon. NASA’s free e‑book about the Webb Tele­scope reveals the prepa­ra­tion going on to get the new tool ready for take-off.


Its large mir­ror and dis­tant view­ing posi­tion are expect­ed to give Webb’s images high­er res­o­lu­tion and sen­si­tiv­i­ty, allow­ing sci­en­tists to study the birth and evo­lu­tion of galax­ies as well as the for­ma­tion of stars and plan­ets.

The e‑books are writ­ten at a high school lev­el and can be viewed on an iPad using a free iBooks app. If you don’t have an iPad, no need to wor­ry. A non-inter­ac­tive ver­sion of the Hub­ble eBooks is also avail­able, as is one about the Webb Tele­scope.

You will find these books in our col­lec­tions, 800 Free eBooks for iPad, Kin­dle & Oth­er Devices and 200 Free Kids Edu­ca­tion­al Resources: Video Lessons, Apps, Books, Web­sites & More

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Live: Watch NASA’s Cov­er­age of Aster­oid As It Buzzes By Earth

NASA Sends Image of the Mona Lisa to the Moon and Back

Leonard Nimoy Nar­rates Short Film About NASA’s Dawn: A Voy­age to the Ori­gins of the Solar Sys­tem

Kate Rix writes about dig­i­tal media and edu­ca­tion. Vis­it her web­site and fol­low her on Twit­ter @mskaterix.

Leonard Bernstein Conducts Beethoven’s 9th in a Classic 1979 Performance

Even if you don’t know clas­si­cal music, you know Lud­wig van Beethoven’s Sym­pho­ny No. 9. Fin­ished in 1824, Beethoven’s final com­plete sym­pho­ny, and the first from any major com­pos­er to use voic­es, has risen to and remained at the top of the West­ern orches­tral canon as one of the most fre­quent­ly per­formed sym­phonies in exis­tence. The Japan­ese have even gone so far as to make it a New Year’s tra­di­tion. I remem­ber, when first learn­ing the Japan­ese lan­guage, watch­ing an edu­ca­tion­al video about an ama­teur neigh­bor­hood cho­rus con­vert­ing the orig­i­nal Ger­man into more read­able Japan­ese pho­net­ic script, so as to bet­ter sing it for their cel­e­bra­tion. A charm­ing sto­ry, to be sure, but at the top of the post, you’ll find Beethoven’s 9th ren­dered with the exact oppo­site of ama­teurism by the Wiener Phil­har­moniker, with Leonard Bern­stein con­duct­ing. (Part one, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four.) Then again, at the root of “ama­teur” lies the term “to love,” and who would dare accuse Bern­stein, how­ev­er con­sum­mate­ly pro­fes­sion­al a man of music, of not lov­ing this sym­pho­ny?

“I’ve just fin­ished film­ing and record­ing the great 9th Sym­pho­ny,” Bern­stein says in the clip just above, describ­ing how the expe­ri­ence got him think­ing about his­tor­i­cal dates. “My asso­ci­a­tions led me back to the year of my own birth, 1918, the year of the great armistice which brought the First World War to an end. Now, I had the key. The pass­word was peace, armistice, broth­er­hood — ‘ain’t gonna study war no more.’  Peace, broth­er­hood, we are all chil­dren of one father, let us embrace one anoth­er, all the mil­lions of us, friend­ship, love, joy: these, of course, are the key words and phras­es from [Friedrich] Schiller’s [“Ode to Joy”] to which Beethoven attached that glo­ri­ous music, rang­ing from the mys­te­ri­ous to the radi­ant to the devout to the ecsta­t­ic.” You can also watch the per­for­mance that put Bern­stein’s mind on this track as one of the many includ­ed in Beethoven 9, Deutsche Gram­mophon’s first iPad/iPhone/iPod app. For free, you get two min­utes of the sym­pho­ny with all fea­tures enabled. “The full expe­ri­ence,” their site adds, ” is then unlocked through In-App Pur­chase.”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Leonard Bern­stein Demys­ti­fies the Rock Rev­o­lu­tion for Curi­ous (if Square) Grown-Ups in 1967

Leonard Bernstein’s Mas­ter­ful Lec­tures on Music (11+ Hours of Video Record­ed in 1973)

Bern­stein Breaks Down Beethoven

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on lit­er­a­ture, film, cities, Asia, and aes­thet­ics. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­lesA Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.