Across the globe at The Globe Theater

by Danielle Theraldson

theraldsoda@mnstate.edu

On a day trip to London, Eurospring students visited the Globe Theatre. First built in 1599 near Bankside London, the theater was founded by Richard Burbage and constructed by Peter Smith. Burbage brought together a group of actors and playwrights to create “The Globe Production Company,” staging not only Shakespeare’s plays, but those by other leading playwrights of the time.

The Globe burnt down and was rebuilt in the early 1600s, only to be torn down again in 1642, when plays were banned by Parliament who feared the amusement offered would spread immorality.

Today’s Globe Theater is a reconstruction of the original.  Completed by American actor Sam Wannamaker in 1997, it stands only a few hundred yards from the original site. It assumes the historical octagonal shape and is made of wood, stone, and plaster, but has some added safety features and modern amenities, like toilets.

The theatre only offers matinees because it relies on natural light. Audience members are exposed to the elements on any given day, as the theater, like in Shakespeare’s day, has no roof and producers put on a show come rain or shine.

Unlike modern theaters, the seating consists of wooden benches with cushions.

In Shakespeare’s time, a penny bought a ticket in the “groundlings” where one would stand in the “yard” around the stage. The groundlings were close to the stage and the action, but had no toilets and a sand, ash, and nutshell covered floor. For another penny a bench seat in the lower galleries that surrounded the yard was available. A penny more bought a cushion for added comfort. The most expensive seats in the house were in the “Lord’s Room.”

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