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The Globe Theatre


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Title: The Globe Theatre

The Globe Theatre William Shakespeare
Elizabethan Theatre
  • During Shakespeare's era, the Globe Theatre was
    not in the formal jurisdiction of London per se,
    but was located on the south side of the Thames
    River in the Southwark district. The Globe
    Theatre was part of what might be called the
    "sporting district" (if not the "red light
    district") of Greater London. Although condemned
    by London authorities, along with cock-fighting,
    bear-baiting and the bawdy attractions of
    taverns, the Southwark theater district operated
    outside the legal reach of the City's officials.
  • Disaproved of players and playgoers
  • Moral political reasons
  • Fear of spreading plague

But while the Globe Theatre, and indeed, the
entire Elizabethan theater scene opened its doors
to the low life of the pits, it also accommodated
an audience of higher-status, well-heeled, and
better educated individuals.
Elizabethan Theatre Cont.
  • The Theatre was the 1st stationary theatre.
  • Cuthbert Burbage owned the Theatre, its
    structure and materials, but the land on which
    the Theatre was erected was leased by his father,
    and Cuthbert was unable to negotiate a renewal of
    the land lease.
  • Burbage tore down the Theatre and used its
    timbers and other elements as the building
    materials for what would become the Globe
    Theatre. Before erecting the Globe at a nearby
    site, Cuthbert assured himself and his partners
    that they would have a stream of stellar content
    and the most renowned company of actors in

The Globe Theatre
  • Burbage essentially built the Globe for the
    Chamberlain's Men, including their chief writer,
    William Shakespeare.
  • The lease for the land and the ownership of the
    Globe was divided in two 50 percent of the
    assets were owned by Cuthbert and, Richard
    Burbage the other 50 percent stake was
    apportioned among five other members of the
    Chamberlain's men.

The Structure of the Globe
  • The Globe was a small wooden O (really
    octagonal cylinder like)
  • Could accommodate 3,000 people (todays largest
    theatre in London only seats 1160
  • Thatched roof (straw) which had to be coated with
    special fire protectant (the roof was
    accidentally set on fire by a cannon during a
    performance of Henry VIII) The entire theatre
    burned in 1 hour. It was rebuilt a year later.

In 1644, 30 years after it was rebuilt, The Globe
was tore down.
The Structure of the Globe Cont.
  • Because there was no lighting, all performances
    at the Globe were conducted, weather permitting,
    during the day,(Probably between 2 5PM). Even
    storms and night scenes were played on sunny
  • Because most of the Globe and all of its stage
    was open air, acoustics were poor and the actors
    were compelled by circumstances to shout their
    lines, stress their enunciation, and engage in
    exaggerated theatrical gestures.

The Structure of the Globe Cont.
  • The productions staged at the Globe were
    completely devoid of background scenery. Although
    costumes and some props were utilized, changes of
    scene in Shakespeare's plays were not conducted
    by stagehands during brief curtain closings.
    There was no curtains and no stagehands to speak
    of other than the actors themselves. Instead,
    changes of scene were indicated explicitly or
    implicitly in the speeches and narrative
    situations that Shakespeare wrote into the text
    of the plays
  • Most times the actors dressed in Elizabethan
    clothes rather than the dress of the day.

The Stage of the Globe
  • The stage of the Globe was a level platform that
    was raised about five feet off the ground.
  • The stage was fitted with a number of mechanisms
    (trap doors in its floor for instance).
  • The area beneath the stage is referred to as

The Yard (Pit)
  • The stage was surrounded on three sides by the
    "pit" in which "one-penny" spectators stood. hese
    one-penny (about .60 today) spectators were
    called groundlings.
  • An Elizabethan groundling would pay one penny to
    see a 2 hour performance without intervals. In
    1999, you would pay 5 pounds and most
    performances have 1 or 2 intervals.
  • There is no evidence that Elizabethan actors
    would have ventured into the yard, a smelly,
    dangerous place the stage was very high, and
    there were spiked railings between the yard and
    the lower gallery, to prevent groundlings from
    sitting without paying an extra penny.

The Yard Cont.
  • Groundlings are free to move around, though on
    very busy days it can be rather difficult. In the
    original Globe, 1000 people could stand in the
    yard, and it got so smelly and hot that they were
    also nicknamed "stinkards". 
  • The groundlings are the audience members who make
    performances at the Globe so memorable they
    mediate between stage and galleries, they have an
    immediate response to jokes, they are made part
    of the action, both imaginatively by the actors
    who see them as an army, a forest or a court, but
    also by their own verbal and physical
    participation throwing back the apple Jaques has
    just thrown into the yard, or helping Bassanio
    make his choice of caskets.

  • The stage was surrounded by an amphitheater three
    stories high, each having a gallery and seating
    for "two-penny" theatergoers. The higher one
    went, the more he paid.
  • The best seats cost 1 shilling (7 today).

Galleries Cont.
  • In the original Globe, you could sit  on the
    wooden benches of one of three galleries when it
    rained if you could afford to pay twopence rather
    than the one penny groundlings paid to stand in
    the yard. Your padded clothes would have provided
    some comfort, but as there was no limit on the
    number of people, it probably got rather cramped.

Galleries Cont.
  • In the original Globe, richer patrons sat in the
    Gentlemen's Rooms, the part of the middle gallery
    closest to the stage. They could ascend to those
    choice seats without crossing the crowded, smelly
    yard. It cost them threepence, as opposed to the
    one penny groundlings paid to stand in the yard
    or the twopence you had to pay to sit on the hard
    seats of the gallery. From there, they would sit
    comfortably on cushioned seats and enjoy an
    excellent view of the stage. Because they were so
    close to the players, they would probably be able
    to concentrate better on the text of the play
    (remember the Elizabethans said they went to hear
    a play rather than see it). 

The Gentlemans Rooms
The Attic
  • The attic contains a huge room that is used both
    for storage of props and costumes and as a
    rehearsal and audition space.
  • In the Opening Season, it housed a cannon. It
    was fired during performances of Henry V
  • In the 1998 season, bells were installed in the
    cannon's place.
  • The trap in the Heavens ceiling is accessed from
    the attic. It is used for descents (Cynthia was
    gently lowered from there in the Masque of The
    Maid's Tragedy in 1997) and dropping of various
    props, e.g. flowers, drapes, leaves, etc.

The Heaverns
  • The gilding and sumptuous decorations of the
    stage and its roof, known as the Heavens,
    portraying the sun, moon, stars and signs of the
    Zodiac, were created by using Renaissance
    techniques and pigments.
  • Notice also the sculptors on the balcony. The
    Heavens and the sculptors are both examples of
    Ancient Greek Roman influence on the

More Ancient Greek Roman Influence
The Balcony The Tiring Room
  • The balcony is first and foremost the musicians'
    room, offering the best acoustics and a good view
    for cueing. The musicians usually stand in the
    central section. Also used for scenes requiring
    an upstairs, the balcony scene in Romeo Juliet,
  • Members of the audience sit in the side
    sections. In the Renaissance, the aristocracy
    favored these seats because they could be seen
    (and heard) as well as see the actors from very
    close. That is why they were called the Lords'
  • Behind the wall, the Tiring House is the part of
    the playhouse where Elizabethan actors would get
    dressed ('attired').

The Flag
  • The Globe was capped by a small turret structure,
    from which a flag and a trumpeter would announce
    the day's performances.
  • A white flag meant a comedy would be shown that
  • A black flag indicated a tragedy.

The Globe Theatre as depicted in a set of
postagestamps depicting the Bankside theatres
issued by the Royal Mail on August 8, 1995
The Globe Theatre Today
  • The reconstruction of the Globe Theatre, gleaming
    happily on the south bank of the Thames in
    London, is just about one of the prettiest sights
    anybody could wish for. The entire construction,
    except for various minor elements (mostly
    chemical fire retardants and a few electronic
    gadgets needed to pass municipal fire codes), was
    done in the "old fashioned ways" the Elizabethans
    would have used. There is not a nail in the
    entire theatre, only oak pegs. The lime wash is
    authentic, too, although the filler of horsehair
    in the plaster walls was fudged a little with
    other domestic animal hairs, to save as much
    money as possible. In fact, the entire thing was
    done with funding from private donations.

The Globe Theatre Cont.
  • The Globe now presents theatrical productions on
    this stage during the summer months, and they
    break with Elizabethan authenticity by staging
    the plays at night and using stage lights, which
    is a necessity for bringing in modern audiences.
    When the new Globe opened a controversial
    decision was made to stage Shakespeare only in
    modern clothing. The Globe has now decided to
    present one production per year in Elizabethan
    costuming, but this, too, is not without
    controversy, because, "There is a feeling that,
    if you want authenticity, you must take the
    entire pill. Truly authentic Elizabethan staging
    would mean using boys in the women's roles,
    constructing costumes entirely by hand with no
    zippers or modern embellishments, and so on."

William Shakespeare1564-
His Life
  • Little information known
  • 1. The first attempts at biographical research
    were not begun until over a half a century after
    Shakespeare's death, and are therefore not based
    on first-hand accounts. Few biographies, even of
    the famous, were written during the period, and
    (though it may seem odd to us) drama was not
    considered serious literature at the time--so
    dramatists in general were not considered worth
    writing about.
  • 2. In addition, the theatres were closed by the
    puritans in 1642, 36 years after Shakespeare's
    death, with the result that many records and
    manuscripts were lost.

His Life Cont.
  • William Shakespeare was born in
    Stratford-upon-Avon, allegedly on April 23, 1564.
    Church records from Holy Trinity Church indicate
    that he was baptized there on April 26, 1564.

  • This is the schoolroom where the boy Will Shaxper
    attended grammar school.
  • There is great conjecture about Shakespeare's
    childhood years, especially regarding his
    education. It is surmised by scholars that
    Shakespeare attended the free grammar school in
    Stratford, which at the time had a reputation to
    rival Eton. While there are no records extant to
    prove this claim, Shakespeare's knowledge of
    Latin and Classical Greek would tend to support
    this theory. In addition, Shakespeare's first
    biographer, Nicholas Rowe, wrote that John
    Shakespeare had placed William "for some time in
    a free school." John Shakespeare, as a Stratford
    official, would have been granted a waiver of
    tuition for his son. As the records do not exist,
    we do not know how long William attended the
    school, but certainly the literary quality of his
    works suggest a solid education. What is certain
    is that William Shakespeare never proceeded to
    university schooling, which has stirred some of
    the debate concerning the authorship of his works.
  • Tradition has it that Shakespeare occupied the
    second desk from the front on the left here.

Marriage Kids
  • On November 27, 1582, a license was issued to
    permit Shakespeares marriage, at the age of 18,
    to Anne Hathaway, aged 26 and the daughter of a
    Warwickshire farmer. (Although the document lists
    the bride as Annam Whateley, the scribe most
    likely made an error in the entry.) The next day
    a bond was signed to protect the bishop who
    issued the license from any legal responsibility
    for approving the marriage, as William was still
    a minor and Anne was pregnant. The couples
    daughter, Susanna, was born on May 26, 1583, and
    twinsHamnet and Judith who were named for their
    godparents, neighbors Hamnet and Judith
    Sadlerfollowed on February 2, 1585.

Anne Hathoway
  • Anne Hathaway's house is beautifully preserved
    just outside Stratford-upon-Avon. Young Will went
    a' courtin' here. Inside, there is a narrow
    "wooing bench" where he and Anne sat. Notice the
    thatched roof? England's laws now protect any
    thatched roof. If you own one, you have to
    maintain it. Although the outer layers are
    stripped away when regular maintenance is done,
    the innermost layers (if they are in good
    condition, as is usual) remain, which means that
    the thatch on the inside of this thing may be as
    much as 500 years old!

The Actor The Plays
  • Acting Companies Names
  • 1. Lord Chamberlains Men under Queen Elizabeth
  • 2. Kings Men under King James I

The Plays
  • Shakespeare wrote nearly all of his plays from
    1590 to 1611
  • First, was the Histories play and the Comedies
  • Tragedies written after Shakespeares fathers
    death, son Hamnets death, and death of Queen
    Elizabeth I
  • Tragedy -All focus on a basically decent
    individual who brings about his own downfall
    through a tragic flaw.
  • Romances/Tragicomedies - plays in which the
    tragic facts of human existence are fully
    acknowledged but where reassuring patterns of
    reconciliation and harmony can be seen finally to
    shape the action.

The Plays
  • Types of plays written by Shakespeare
  • Histories HenryVIII, King Richard II, etc
  • Comedies As You Like It, Taming of the Shrew
  • Tragedies Macbeth, Hamlet, Othello
  • Romances ( tragicomedies)- The Winters Tale, The

Shakespeares Grave
  • This is William Shakespeare's grave at the altar
    inside Holy Trinity Church. The gravestone reads
    "Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbear to dig the
    dust enclosed here. Blessed be the man that
    spares these stones, and cursed be he that moves
    my bones." We do not know who wrote these lines,
    but tradition has it that Shakespeare himself
    penned them. Ironically, although his grave has
    been in this spot since his death, by the
    mid-eighteenth century the original gravestone
    had deteriorated and sunk down below the floor
    level, so it had to be replaced. We often joke
    about this, that the stone was not "spared" as
    the epitaph directs us, but one would assume that
    the actual intent may have been to deter any
    Gravedigger from discarding his bones into the
    charnel house and planting somebody else in his

Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616 the day and
month traditionally associated with his birthday!