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The first Globe Theatre was built in London in 1599. It was built on the Southbank of the river Thames in Southwark, London in close proximity to the Bear Garden. The land had been owned by the Bishop of Winchester and this estate was called the Liberty of the Clink.
James Burbage had obtained a lease and permission to build the first theatre called 'The Theatre' in Shoreditch, London. Later, Burbage opened negotiations to re-new the lease of the 'Theatre' but these all failed which is why the Globe Theatre was built.
All negotiations for a new tenancy agreement failed with Giles Allen and decided to pull the 'Theatre' down. But a clause in the original agreement allowed the actors to dismantle the Theatre and use of the building materials themselves. Then the Globe Theatre was built with the timbers and other material from the old 'Theatre‘ during the Christmas of 1598
James Burbage had consulted Dr. John Dee on the design and construction of The Theatre and relied on Dee's extensive architectural library to design the plans for the construction of The Theatre which provided a blueprint for the Globe Theatre which was built later.
The Globe Theatre was built by a master carpenter called Peter Smith and his workers. The acting troupe, including William Shakespeare, probably helped as they still had no income before it was finished. In the end there were six joint owners of the theater.
The new Globe Theatre was built in just six months and opened for performances in May 1599. It became the most magnificent theatre that London had ever seen.
The theater was designed to seat 2,000 to 3,000 people.
No artificial lighting, so the plays were done during the day, and only if the weather permitted it.
Usually shows spanned between the hours of 2pm and 5pm.
Audio was very poor with an open roof, so actors were forced to yell and exaggerate often.
An interesting fact was that there were never scene changes with no background scenery.
There was no such thing as backstage crews, and no curtains so the scenes were organized already in the scripts by Shakespeare.
The Globe Theatre didn’t just show plays. It was also reputed to be a brothel and gambling house.
The Structure of The Globe Theater
The Theater was in a circular shape
The stage was a level platform about 43 feet in width and about 28 feet in length.
The stage was above the audience, raised about 5 feet above the crowd.
It was surrounded on three sides by the "pit" in which spectators stood that paid only 1 penny.
The amphitheater was three stories high, each having a gallery and seating for theatergoers that paid 2 pennies.
The 2 penny seats were partially covered while the 1 penny standers were open air.
Behind the stage was an room, where costumes changes were made.
The theater was capped by a small turret structure, from which a flag and a trumpeter would announce the day's performances.
Design of the Globe Theater
How the Globe Theater is connected to Shakespeare
The Globe Theater is important because it is the theater that all of Shakespeare’s plays were first performed.
He was part of the acting troupe that worked there, and was in charge of writing plays for the actors to perform.
The Globe was built in a similar style to the Coliseum, but on a smaller scale - other Elizabethan Theatres followed this style of architecture which were called amphitheaters.
Theatrical Performances proved to be so popular that in 1591 the growing popularity of theatres led to a law closing all theatres were closed on Thursdays so that the bull and bear baiting industries would not be neglected.
Outbreaks of the Bubonic Plague were so serious that the Globe Theatre was forced to close. The outbreaks and closures occurred in 1593 , 1603 and 1608. In 1563, in London alone, over 20,000 people died of the deadly Bubonic Plague.
The motto of the Globe theatre was "Totus mundus agit histrionem" (the whole world is a playhouse). The phrase was slightly re-worded in the William Shakespeare play As You Like It - "All the world’s a stage" which was performed at the Globe Theatre.
No women were allowed to work as actors - female roles were taken by young lads who wore women's clothes and elaborate make-up. The lead content in the white make-up led to many early deaths of the boy actors.
Different colored flags were used to advertise the themes of plays which were to be performed at the Globe Theatre. A black flag indicated a tragedy, a white flag indicated a comedy and a red flag indicated a History.
Destruction of The Globe Theater
On June 29, 1613, a fake stage cannon fired in the theater during the performance All Is True, a play about Henry VIII
Sparks from the blast set the thatched roof on fire
The theatre burned down in two hours
Fortunately, no one was killed during the fire
The theatre was later rebuilt the next year
In 1644, the theatre was again destroyed by the Puritans who had religious standings against British entertainment.
A modern rendition was created nearly two centuries later
The Modern Globe Theater
Michael Lagapa and Tommy Siegle
Plans for the New Globe Theatre
The New Globe Theatre After Construction
Modern Globe Theatre History Sam Wanamaker visions the recreation of The Globe Theatre, and founds Shakespeare Globe Trust 1969 1970 1982 John Orrell discovers new evidence of the Old Theatre’s dimensions 1988 Globe Theatre Project begins to run out of money 1989 Crosby suggests “Direct Building,” which is building when funds are available 1991 Construction begins 1982 Key architect Theo Crosby is hired, and his firm Pentagram start to design the replica of the Globe Theatre. First play performed at Modern Globe Theatre 1993-1994 San Wanamaker and Theo Crosby die, respectively 1997 Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip inaugurate the Globe Theatre in London
Modern Globe Theatre Interior
The Modern Globe Theatre was as authentic as it could be.
A key feature in both theatres are the two “Herculean” pillars
The pillars in the Old Globe Theatre were painted to look like Greek and Roman classic styles.
The pillars in the Modern Globe theatre have the same effect.
The pillars support a stage roof called the “Heavens.”
The Heavens are painted with the pictures of the sun, moon and the Zodiac.
The Heavens are hidden from the audience and act as a section for ropes and rigging for special effects.
Behind the pillars is the stage wall called the “Frons Scenae”
There is a doorway to the left and right, and a curtained central doorway from which actors make their entrances. Above the door is decorated screen.
The Statues on the right and left of the stage represent the themes of comedy and tragedy.
The open air arena is called the “pit.”
It has a raised stage at one end and is surrounded by three tiers of roofed galleries with balconies overlooking the back of the stage.
The Modern Globe Theatre interior can hold up to 1600 people, 700 standing and 900 in the pit
Two staircases lead to the upper galleries of the Modern Globe Theatre and four main entrances lead to the “pit” and the Lower Gallery.
Picture of the Modern Globe Theatre Interior Modern Globe Theatre Interior continued
There is natural lighting in the
theatre which is reflected by mirrors.
There is no heating or air conditioning
in the theatre.
The theatre is 44 feet wide, 25 feet
deep, and projects 80 feet into the pit.
The stage is raised at five feet
It is made of wood, and has trap
doors just like the Old Globe Theatre which enable special effects.
The seats in each of the three level
of the galleries are tiered with three rows of seats.
The galleries are covered to reduce
damage to the theatre.
Side view image of the Modern Globe Theatre Modern Globe Theatre Interior continued
Globe Theatre under construction and near completion.
The Globe Theater Today
The Globe Theater today is nothing like the original theater, yet it still retains the similar look when compared to the previous theater.
It stands 200 yards away from the original site.
Today, the still perform the same plays of Shakespeare, for example, Rome and Juliet.
Yet the use of technology in plays like microphones make it a part of the new century.
It is the guess we have of what the Globe Theater looked like.