Auckland’s “Pop-up Globe” is the world’s first full-scale temporary working replica of Shakespeare’s second Globe Theatre in London. It was built to offer modern audiences the experience of a Jacobean playhouse to celebrate the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death.

“Shakespeare’s Globe” in London


The Lord Chamberlain’s Men was Shakespeare’s favourite group of performers and he wrote most of his plays for them. From 1594 they performed at an Elizabethan playhouse they called ‘The Theatre’ but three years later, landlord issues forced them to relocate 200 yards down the road to the Curtain Theatre. With the popularity of Shakespeare’s plays attracting bigger audiences, the actors dismantled the Curtain Theatre and carried the beams from Shoreditch to south of the Thames at Southwark and in 1599, the Globe theatre opened for business. Unfortunately, the wooden building was destroyed by fire on the 29th June 1613. A second Globe Theatre opened the following year but in September 1642 Parliament ordered the closure of all London theatres because they promoted too much “lascivious mirth and levity”. Under the act, actors were classed as rogues and audiences were likely to be fined if they attended any theatres that defied the ban.


Nearly three centuries later, a modern reconstruction of the second Globe Theatre was constructed in London approximately 750 feet (230 m) from the site of the original theatre. Since its opening in 1997, “Shakespeare’s Globe”, as it is known, has become another of London’s world famous tourist attractions. Tourists from around the world clamber for tickets to experience the special atmosphere as they watch the English bard’s iconic plays performed in the unique space that is the “Shakespeare’s Globe”.


Auckland’s 1st Pop-up Globe

Aucklander, Miles Gregory is a Shakespearean scholar, trained in England. He lectures at a local arts college. His dream to offer an Elizabethan theatre experience to Auckland audiences seemed far-fetched but with determination and the right people to support him, his dream came true in February 2016. Built on a central city car park in just 5 weeks, Auckland’s first Pop-up Globe opened in February 2016 and sold 100,000 tickets in a hugely popular festival of Shakespeare. Due to popular demand, the season was extended twice before the unique theatre was quickly dismantled and completely disappeared.

In February this year, the Pop-up Globe returned to Auckland with an improved new theatre, and rather than a congested inner city car park, it was set up in an attractive garden setting a short distance from the CBD.

Auckland’s 2nd Pop-up Globe

From February to May, colourful new productions of “Othello”, “As You Like It”, “Henry V” and “Much Ado About Nothing”, were staged in this second temporary theatre by the Queen’s Company, a collective of male and female actors and musicians especially brought together for the Pop-up Globe. The all male, King’s Company is a second group of actors also performing at selected times.

The Queen’s Company


Constructed from over 100 tonnes of scaffolding with corrugated iron skin, Pop-up Globe combines cutting-edge scaffold technology with 400 year old design. The three storied structure is topped with a distinctive 17 tonne dome over the main part of the stage. Pop-up Globe recreates as accurately as possible the actual performance conditions of the second Globe theatre in London. A 100sqm stage extends into the central yard so the 900 audience members are never further than 15 metres from the action onstage. This design allows close interaction with the performers, as the audience is a vital part of the show. It’s all about having fun and a jolly good time.

Audiences are treated to live music, spirited dancing, energetic fight sequences and direct address with every show ending in a rousing dance. The house lights remain on during the evening performances so the actors and audience can share the same space and experience. Standing in the yard as a ‘groundling’ puts you in the thick of the action. If you want a bit more shelter and to rest your feet, a seat in the lower, middle or upper galleries allows a full view of both actors and fellow audience. There is more comfort and luxury in a seat in one of the rooms above the stage, or for a really unique experience, there are two Royal Rooms adjacent to the stage.

I have driven past the Pop-up Globe during a performance and could easily hear the hooting and shouts coming from the audience as they fully engaged themselves in the show. Miles Gregory must be very satisfied that his crazy idea has become such a hit with Auckland audiences. It seems the Pop-up Globe is destined to pop up again next year, and the year after that. There is now talk of taking the Pop-up Globe to Australia and even further afield. The popularity of this unique entertainment venue with its fun atmosphere proves people love to experience something different. This theatre certainly provides that!

Thanks to the Pop-up Globe and its merry band of players, Shakespeare’s plays are again entertaining audiences in the same fashion they did more than 400 years ago.

Ceidrik Heward

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