When Shakespeare’s Playhouse Came to Washington, DC

Flashback to my college years studying abroad in London and I was standing front and center towards the stage at Shakespeare’s Globe theatre. In case you didn’t know, playgoers stand in the orchestra section of the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, since it’s simply apart of the experience!! I saw multiple William Shakespeare plays within my college years, especially within that month that I spent in London, including: The Tempest, As You Like It, Romeo & Juliet, and Othello. Needless to say, my Shakespeare-filled month was nothing short of a dream come true!! SO, when Shakespeare’s Playhouse came to the National Building Museum in my home city of Washington, DC, I just knew I had to pop by!!

The National Building Museum is located right across the street from the Judicial Square Metro station on the Red Line. It is also about a 15 minute walk from Metro Center Metro station along with Gallery Place Metro station, yet I chose the utter easiness of seeing the museum right when I saw sunlight via the Metro station’s escalator and I suggest others do as well. The museum is opulent and absolutely stunning both on the outside and the inside.

Shakespeare’s Playhouse exhibit is a limited-time exhibit at the National Building Museum in collaboration with the Folger Shakespeare Library until the end of August 28, 2022. It has played hostess to several super neat exhibits over the years, including an exhibit that involved placing plastic balls in the main lobby of the museum, which brought in several visitors. Currently, the National Building Museum has an exhibit on the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France amongst many others. There are LOTS of children-specific exhibits and activities, too. For more information on the National Building Museum, look no further than here: https://www.nbm.org/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIx6nFy53g-QIVm__jBx2uiAHoEAAYASAAEgLeYfD_BwE

When I walked into the National Building Museum, I was in awe with its utter opulent beauty. Personally, I think that the golden columns which line the National Building Museum’s main lobby felt *PERFECT* to be able to house Shakespeare’s Playhouse exhibit. The Shakespeare’s Playhouse exhibit lined the foyer of the museum. It is highly suggested that you go with one of their hourly tours to view the exhibit and learn more about it. In the evenings, A Midsummer Night’s Dream – one of Shakespeare’s well-known performances – is performed with tickets going on sale. While on the tour, I learned that the theatre within the Shakespeare’s Playhouse exhibit was designed by a professor at the University of South Carolina to replicate Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London. The theatre will, then, go to its home at the University of South Carolina and serve as a touring outdoor theatre for William Shakespeare’s splendid performances ALL throughout the warmer months. In my opinion, this theatre will be such a great way to preserve and commemorate Shakespeare’s works for many years and generations to come.

Along with a drop dead gorgeous theatre replicating Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London, the Shakespeare’s Playhouse exhibit also had a section for costumes from plays over the years, the design inspiration and sketches behind *even more* costumes from Shakespeare’s plays, and interactive costume dress up experiences. As a BIG fashion lover, I loved getting to see some of the many gorgeous costumes that were designed specifically for the stage. Unlike walking into a boutique to buy clothing for a show, costume designers for a show design the costumes specifically for the actor(s) who are in the show and what they may be doing within the show (such as intricate dancing, fencing, etc.). It truly is a neat process of costume design as A LOT of work goes into making just one garment for a performance that takes on a whole other level of intricacy that goes beyond the construction of a pair of jeans from Target.

I flew solo on my visit to the National Building Museum. It was a GREAT experience to simply take myself out on a date, and I think you should take yourself out on a date, too! It was REALLY fun and a little bittersweet to be able to relive my experiences of studying William Shakespeare in London for a month. Next on my list of embracing my love of William Shakespeare is to check out the town of Staunton, Virginia – the town is currently playing homage to a HUGE Shakespeare playhouse – and explore the Folger Shakespeare Library in my home city of Washington, DC. I hope y’all continue to find things you love nearby your homes, too.

XOXO – Katie <3

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