SHAKESPEARE AND THE GLOBE THEATRE
In 1584 a poor boy from Stratford-on-Avon came to London where he took a menial job in a theatre. In that thearte, the boy, named William Shakespeare, found his place in life, and by 1592 became a well-known playwright.
Shakespeare's acting company was called The Lord Chamberlain's Men because a high court official, the Lord Chamberlain, was their patrone. "Without such patronage the actors would have been in the same legal class as vagrants and beggars." There were only boys and men in the Shakespeare's acting company (there were no girls or women). "The actors performed as many as thirty different plays in a single theatrical season. Of those plays, at least fifteen would be new that year (including, on average, two by Shakespeare); the company added a new play to its repertory about once every two weeks. There was no director in the modern sense of the word." Shakespeare wrote his plays to be performed by his own acting company and did not intend to publish them; "that is why stage directions in some of the first printed texts are sparse"(Acting Company). In modern texts, editors include stage directions (they were not supplied by the author).
In 1599 The Lord Chamberlain's Men build a gorgeous theatre on the south bank of the Thames and called it the Globe. The Globe had a great spaciousness; up to three thousand spectators could enjoy a show at the same time. Because audience almost surrounded the stage, the most distant member of the audience would be about seventy feet from the stage. "So, The Globe combined a large capacity with a great intimacy between audience and actors. There was no curtain. No lighting. No scenery. Nothing, that is, to distract from the actor's spoken language"(Globe). Shakespeare wrote his plays having in mind architectural requirements of The Globe. He retired from the stage in 1610. In 1613 The Globe burnt and was immediatelly rebuilt again on the same foundations. In 1642 The Globe was closed by Puritans (who closed all the theatres in London) and two years later the famous theatre was pulled down to build tenements.
Today, after almost four hundred years, Shakespeare's Globe has opened it's doors again. It has become possible because of one man's love and devotion. Sam Wanamaker devoted thirty years of his life to reconstruction of The Globe Theatre. He founded The Shakespeare Globe Playhouse Trust to rise funds for the project, invited famous architects, obtained local authority's permission on a land to build the theatre (new Globe is build two hundred yards away from it's original site because the original site is occupied by a brewery). Unfortunately, Sam Wanamaker was not able to see the results of his efforts. He died in December of 1993, but he will always be remembered for what he has done.
The Globe Theatre on the Internet
This page uses materials from The Plays of Shakespeare website of Princeton University.
All sites mentioned here were accessed on Dec 8, 1997. Click here to get to works cited.