Globe Theatre

Globe Theatre

In the cobblestone roadways and roughly
built playhouses, an extraordinary development took place in England in
the 1500s. At that time, a burst of literary accomplishments arose
that was never before seen in the history of the theater. In the
all-new idea of theaters, playwrights lifted the Elizabethan Theater to
new heights. Men like Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe dared to
write plays about real people in a variety of real situations. (Yowell

13) Through their efforts, these men and those of similar qualities
produced dramas that were far more sophisticated and entertaining than
ever before. Audiences expressed their pleasure by demanding more
and more plays. The public shared a great deal of interest in the
theaters and playwrights of this time. People from all over the city
of London would travel to experience the dramatic feel of the Elizabethan

Theater. The theater was a very important aspect of Elizabethan life in
the medieval ages.

Life in Elizabethan times was difficult
and dangerous. Many people were poor tenant farmers, often living
at the mercy of wealthy landowners. People threw trash of all kinds
into streets, and tolerated fleas, lice, and rats in their homes and clothing.
(Richman 1) Disease and Death were a part of everyday life.

Elizabethans sought relief from their harsh lives by attending plays and
other forms of entertainment, which made the theater so important to Elizabethan
culture. There were many theaters in Elizabethan times, all very
similar to each other. However, when William Shakespeare began writing
playwrights, the final production was so exceptional, that no other person
could compare. With this, Shakespeare was mainly centered at one
theater, The Globe. With the popularity of playwrights in the middle ages,
the theaters themselves were popular as well. By the late 1500s, performances
were becoming expensive, shutting out the non-payers. (Hartz 35)

The solution was to find or construct buildings that were suitable for
the performance of plays. By the late 1500s, there were over a dozen
theaters in the immediate London area. At this time, the most popular
theater, "The Theatre" housed the most prestigious of plays. For
years, this one individual theater acted as the center of the town, where
the most famous plays were shown. But in 1597, the lease on the land
on which The Theatre sat expired and the owner of the land would not renew
the lease. (Encarta n/p) In the winter of 1598, while the original
owner was away, the people of London decided to move the theater, board
by board. They began to rebuild the theater in Southwark, London,
near The Rose, The Swan, and The Hope theaters. After ten months
of rebuilding, the theater was later renamed as The Globe in 1598.

The Globe Theatre was rebuilt primarily
for the fall of the previous theater. Upon completion of the newer,
revised theater, The Globe actually turned out not to be the largest of
it\'s time. The theater was three stories high, one-hundred feet in
diameter, and could hold as many as 2,900 patrons if desired. (Encarta
n/p) The Globe Theatre was constructed as a mixture between a Roman

Amphitheater and an English Tudor House. The architecture of The

Globe was very unique. There was no roof over the actual theater.

There was however a thatched roof over the stage. The use of a roof
over the stage was not only to protect the performers from the weather,
but to improve acoustics as well. (Hornell 44) Two very elaborate,
almost gaudy pillars held the roof over the stage, a style favored by the

Elizabethans. The stage in itself was rectangular and extended into
the middle of the auditorium. Various trapdoors were cut in the center
of the stage, through which an actor might disappear or leap forth, as
the action demanded. A balcony hung over the rear of the stage and
a musicians\' gallery was tucked behind the balcony. (Richman 1)

Unseen, behind the stage, was the Tiring House. Here is where the
actors dressed for the plays. Individual dressing rooms were not
a feature of Elizabethan playhouses, so actors were to dress in whatever
open space they could find. (Yowell 16)

The Globe Theater was the home to one of
the most honored writers of the time, William Shakespeare. Here,

Shakespeare wrote, rehearsed, and performed his plays. Plays such
as "Caesar" and "Romeo & Juliet" were performed at The Globe, which
helped build The Globe into a very popular and prestigious theater.
(Richman 1) When the actual performance was taking place, a flag
was raised to show that the play was ready to be performed. (Encarta
n/p)

Inside the theater was very different than
one might expect. The Globe was almost