Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Globe Theatre - Shakespeare's Grand Audience Chamber

Shakespeare would have had his large uniplex back in the day with the Globe Theatre. It is an iconic building where Shakespeare's plays were performed to thousands of people. The theatre was not just a theatre in itself, but it was also supposed to be a brothel and gambling house. Like any good movie theatre, merchandise and refreshments were offered.

Before the Globe Theatre, there was simply The Theater constructed in Shoreditch, London in 1576. The owner of the theater was James Burbage who had to deal with an expired twenty-one year old lease. The grounds landlord, Giles Allen, had no taste for theater whatsoever. This prompted the landlord to close it down and capitalize on the building materials. But Burbage spotted a clause that stated he could dismantle the theater on his own. So Burbage and the acting troupe moved the materials over to Bankside in Southwark. The troupe itself was responsible to carrying the wood across the River Thames!

In 1597-1598, the Globe Theatre as we know it was constructed by carpenter Peter Smith and his company. Other theaters sprouted before the Globe, such as Hope Theatre and Rose Theatre. The Globe became the most famous. The Globe's fame was attributed back in its heyday where plays were in constant demand and money was to be made from them. Thousands flocked to the theatre, for attending the latest play would have been a colorful event indeed! The flags on the top of the Globe were a form of advertising, the color of the flag indicating what sort of play would be performed. A black flag would be a tragedy, a white flag would be a comedy and the red flag indicated a history play (To me, this method appears similiar to how pirates signaled their malice by placing either white or black flag on their ships!). Commoners in the audience would sit on the floor while the rich sat in chairs.

On June 29th, 1613 a fire broke out in the Globe. The culprit was the cannon used for special effects, which the gunpowder set flame on the thatch roof. The Globe was rebuilt a year later, referred to as "Globe 2." In 1644, the Globe was demolished again by the Puritans. The Puritans with their religious beliefs believed theatre to be a sinful form of entertainment. After the Globe's second destruction, it was never rebuilt again. The old Globe site was found in the 20th century and rebuilt on the same spot.

For more of an overview of the Globe, click here.
- Kristopher

No comments: