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Shakespeare Tavern

Atlanta, Georgia
By Lisa

If you’ve ever longed to see true performances of the greatest and most well-known plays in literature, Shakespeare Tavern is the place for you. The experience reaches beyond the stage; a full menu resembling that of a historic English pub is offered, and the staff dons clothing contemporary with the style of the late 1500s. Most importantly, the actors perform in the liveliest and most entertaining way possible, in order to draw average American “groundlings” into the story. This innovative destination is located on Peachtree Street in downtown Atlanta, caught up in a tangle of streets dotted with other attractions.

In 1984, Atlanta became home to America’s first and only Shakespeare Tavern. Owner Jeffrey Watkins thought of the idea after As You Like It had a hugely successful run at Manuel’s Tavern nearby. Over the next six years, further famous Shakespearean plays were performed there, such as Much Ado About Nothing and Midsummer Night’s Dream. Eventually, the building could no longer comfortably house the drama company, and Watkins began construction of the Shakespeare Tavern. Its appearance was humble in comparison to Atlanta’s other famed theaters, but costly renovations in 1999 and 2006 improved the building, adding a beautiful Globe-inspired balcony.

But what would a Shakespearean theater be without some authentic visitors from the era? The building itself has not been around very long, yet it still seems to attract ghostly guests. Employees, actors, and audience members alike claim to have witnessed mysterious side performances. Often muffled voices are heard when the whole building seem to be mostly empty. There are also some not-as-frightening reports of shadowy figures and odd light patterns. Further still, the top level of the tavern contains a suspiciously cold and clammy room, rarely visited because “the energy feels terrible in there.”

If this doesn’t seem quite scary enough, there are many accounts of veritable apparitions as well. In 1993, an actor in the company’s performance of Henry IV was preparing in the dressing room when a young boy appeared beside his table. The man exited in fright, but not before noticing that his visitor was wearing a blue velvet suit typical of the 1800s. There is also a female entity that appears to have made the tavern her home. She moves around items in the women’s dressing room regularly and sometimes causes backstage props to collapse. Once, she spooked the audience by warning them of a fire.

However, the other non-living residents seem to be more discreet.  There is an old man in old-fashioned clothing who simply wanders the halls, followed by flickering lights and shadows. Another ghost has been reported only as a dark figure that sometimes strolls along the stage’s catwalk at night. Fortunately, though, these cultured phantoms have not yet interfered with any productions at Shakespeare Tavern.  Rather, the possibility of genuine Elizabethan guests adds to the uniqueness of the experience.

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angi says:

October 13, 2012, 5:18 am

what a charming and modern story. this web site has been edgucational and go0d to visit, thanks to who ever put this history site together. really enjoy it! id visit this place, there are other haunted places i think fu*k that. and want to see the little boy i think, i dream of ghosts alot. just in case you wanted to know.

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