The 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,