Pop-up Globe gets its onion dome

In February 2016, the world’s first full scale temporary working replica of the second Globe, the theatre Shakespeare and his company built to stage his plays, popped up in Auckland and created quite a sensation. The 2016 season ran for 12 weeks with 128 performances and sold over 100,000 tickets. It was extended twice due to popular demand.

This month, Auckland’s new Pop-up Globe at Ellerslie Racecourse is nearing completion, with opening day set for February 23. Its 17-tonne roof, featuring a trap door, a cannon, and an onion dome, was built in two weeks on site and lifted onto the theatre by one of New Zealand’s largest cranes. While its exact purpose is unknown, academics believe one of the onion dome’s functions was to attract and disperse sunlight to create natural lighting for the stage.


The original first Globe was built in 1599 on the South Bank of River Thames. It stood for fourteen years until a fire broke out during a performance and destroyed the playhouse. Shakespeare and his company then rebuilt a second Globe on the same site. This time, it is said that the designer owners took advantage of what they had learnt from the first Globe and made many improvements. The second Globe stood for three decades until the English Civil War.

Auckland’s replica is said to be the first accurate reconstruction of the original second Globe, thanks to the ground-breaking research from Sydney University. This second replica of the second Globe features a three-storey Jacobean-inspired stage front, built and painted entirely by hand.

The last season was quite a hit with outstanding performances and spectacular costume designs. The standing tickets are the cheapest and allow early comers to ‘lean’ on the stage and observe every detail. However, the almost three-hour standing is certainly not for the faint-hearted. The productions are designed so that audiences from every angle can enjoy the play. Even if you are not a Shakespeare fan, this is quite a unique experience not to be missed.


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