A brief history of the Globe Theater (Theatre)
Perhaps one of the most famous theaters in the world, the original Globe theater in London was built by carpenter Peter Smith for Shakespeare’s playing company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, in 1599, only to be decimated 14 years later by fire on June 29th, 1613. It could hold more that 1500 people and Shakespeare frequently staged his own plays there. Theatres at the time were in steep competition with each other to pull in audiences, which pushed them to become more and more daring with the special effects used on stage. Sparks from a cannon fired during a performance of King Henry VIII set the thatched roof alight, burning the theatre to the ground. Shakespeare was not there at the time.
A year later in 1614 the Globe was rebuilt, known as the second Globe Theatre. It was closed again however in 1644 by The Puritans, who had gained power after the English Civil War two years previously. They passed an order stopping all stage plays, with the believe that all forms of entertainment should be banned as flippancy was bad for the soul. In 1660 came The Restoration, the re-instating of King Charles II and with it the reopening of a number of previously closed theatres. However The Globe was never restored and remained unbuilt until the modern day reconstruction was completed and opened in 1997, around 230m from the original site, known as ‘Shakespeare’s Globe’.
The modern day Shakespeare’s Globe stands on London’s Southbank, founded by American director and actor, Sam Wanamaker. As no sketches or paintings of the interior survived, the reconstruction was done on the basis of carefully researched expert guesses by looking at the structure of other buildings and theatres that were around at the same time, and also used the original plans for the first globe that were found in order to get the best replica possible. The building stays true to the original in that is it built from English wood, and possesses the only thatched-roof of any building in London since the Great Fire of London in 1666. It is also polygonal in shape, as was the original, with tired seating around a thrust stage. Most of the theatre is open air, with only the seats and stage covered.
An Jacobean Theatre at The Globe is due for completion in 2013, which will allow the performance of plays that are written specifically for indoor theatres, and allow performances to take place all year round, not just in the summer months.
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