The Globe Theatre in England was one of the most famous playhouses of its time in the country. Many of Shakespeare's greatest plays were performed there. Shakespeare was co-owner of the playhouse, which was three storeys high and seated three thousand people. A replica of the theatre was built in 1997, close to the original site.
The Building of the Theatre
When The Lord Chamberlain’s Men, the acting group to which Shakespeare belonged, lost their lease on the land on which the Blackfriars Theatre was built in 1597, they were left in need of a theatre to perform in. The actors could not find a theatre to rent, and none of them had enough money to undertake the project of building one. To solve the problem, two of the actors, James and Richard Burbage came up with the idea of building the playhouse with the actors’ combined money, and having everyone co-own the final building. James and Richard each paid for 25% of the building costs and the rest of the actors, including Shakespeare, paid 12.5% each.
Construction began in 1599 near the River Thames. Although the Blackfriars Theatre should have now belonged to the owner of the land, the actors had it torn down, and used many of the beams to form the framework of the Globe Theatre. The playhouse was circular in shape and the outer part was covered by a thatched straw roof, while the centre was open to the sky. The galleries had seating, but the floor seats were in fact not seats at all, and the people had to stand though the entire performance. The playhouse adopted "Totus mundus agit histrionem" as its motto, meaning the "whole world is a playhouse". Its crest displayed Hercules bearing the globe on his shoulders. The first play to be performed in the Globe Theatre was Julius Caesar.
Performances in the Globe Theatre
The cost for a place on the floor was 1d (one penny). The gallery seats cost 2d (two pence). The performances were much different from modern plays, with no lights and very few props. The actors had to shout to be heard throughout the theatre.
The Theatre Burns Down
On June 29, 1613, a cannon fired in the performance of Henry VIII ignited the thatched roof, and the playhouse burned to the ground. The Globe Theatre was recreated a year later on the opposite side of the Thames. This time the roof was composed of tiles, rather than easily flammable thatch.
The Theatre is Demolished
In 1642, Puritans in England caused the playhouses to be closed, to protect people from what they perceived as the evils of the theater. Two years later, the Globe Theatre was torn down and replaced by housing.
Shakespeare's Globe theatre shows productions written mainly by Shakespeare and his contempories and was completed in 1997 for around 30 million pounds. It is an open air theatre based on the original built in the sixteenth century. It is situated opposite St Paul's Cathedral.