This is the "The Globe Theatre" page of the "Who is William Shakespeare?" guide.
Alternate Page for Screenreader Users
Skip to Page Navigation
Skip to Page Content

Who is William Shakespeare?   Tags: giambri, shakespeare, skyline, william shakespeare  

A students guide to William Shakespeare and his plays.
Last Updated: Jan 11, 2013 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

The Globe Theatre Print Page

The Globe Then

The original Globe Theatre was a wood-framed building with plastered outside walls joining at angles to form a circle or an oval. The interior resembled that of a modern opera house, with three galleries protected from rain and sunlight by a roof. Between 2,000 and 3,000 playgoers paid two or more pennies to sit in these galleries, depositing them in a box. The stage was raised four to six feet from ground level and had a roof supported by pillars. In front of the stage was a roofless yard for up to 1,000 "groundlings" or "stinklings," who paid a "gatherer" a penny to stand through a performance under a hot sun or threatening clouds. Playgoers could also sit on the stage if their wallets were fat enough to pay the exorbitant price. It is unlikely that the uneducated groundlings who huddled in the yard understood the difficult passages in Shakespeare’s plays. Shakespeare himself belittled them in Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, calling them (through lines spoken by Hamlet) incapable of comprehending anything more than dumbshows. But because the groundlings liked the glamor and glitter of a play, they regularly attended performances at the Globe. When bored, they could buy food and drink from roving peddlers, exchange the news of the day, and boo and hiss the actors. 
.......There was no curtain that opened or closed at the beginning or end of plays. At the back of the stage, there was probably a wall with two or three doors leading to the dressing rooms of the actors. These rooms collectively were known as the "tiring house." To tire means to dress–that is, to attire oneself. Sometimes, the wall of the tiring house could stand as the wall of a fortress under siege. Props and backdrops were few. Sometimes a prop used for only one scene remained onstage for other scenes because it was too heavy or too awkward to remove. Peter Street was the carpenter/contractor hired to construct the Globe. The main rival of the Globe in the first years of  the 17th Century was the ortune Theatre, constructed in 1600 (also by Peter Street).
........In Shakespeare's time, males played all the characters, even Juliet, Cleopatra and Ophelia. Actors playing gods, ghosts, demons and other supernatural characters could pop up from the underworld through a trap door on the stage or descend to earth from heaven on a winch line from the ceiling. Off the stage, the ripple of a sheet of metal could create thunder. Stagehands set off fireworks to create omens, meteors, comets, or the wrath of the Almighty. Instruments such as oboes and cornets sometimes provided music. If an actor suffered a fencing wound, he simply slapped his hand against the pouch (perhaps a pig's bladder) beneath his shirt to release ripe red blood signaling his demise. 
.......The gallery had a thatched roof. (Thatch consists of straw or dried stalks of plants such as reeds.) During a performance of Henry VIII on June 29, 1613, the Globe Theatre burned down after booming canon fire announcing the entrance of King Henry at Cardinal Wolsey's palace ignited the roof. 



The Globe Now

Subject Guide

Profile Image
Joanne Glambri
Contact Info
Send Email

Loading  Loading...