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Brief Info On Shakespeare Shakespeare played at many different venues throughout his life. The Globe Theatre is his most well known theatre at which he played.
The Lease of the Theatre The 21 year lease for the ground upon which The Theatre had been built was due to expire at the end of 1597. The ground landlord of The Theater was called Giles Allen. A grasping man, he disapproved of theatrical productions, the theatre in general, and raised the price of the lease of The Theatre to an exorbitant level. The troupe failed to agree new terms and when the lease of The Theatre finally expired the Chamberlain's men were forced to move to The Curtain Theater, another public playing house near The Theatre. All attempts to negotiate the new tenancy and lease agreement of The Theatre failed and Giles Allen planned to pull down the Theatre and capitalize on the building materials. But Burbage found a clause in their former lease allowing them to dismantle the Theatre building. The players decided to pull down The Theatre and transport the timber to a new Theater site on Bankside in Southwark. The work of demolishing the Theatre and transporting the timber across the River Thames was noisily undertaken by the Acting Troupe themselves. Giles Allen was absolutely furious. A new theatre would be built learning from both the mistakes and successes of the original ' Theatre '. The new theater was called The Globe.
The Crest and Motto To announce the arrival of the new playhouse, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men flew a flag featuring the figure of Hercules carrying a Globe on his shoulders to announce the imminent performance of their first performance, Julius Caesar. This theme was displayed above the main entrance of the Globe Theater. A crest displaying Hercules bearing the globe on his shoulders together with the motto "Totus mundus agit histrionem" ( the whole world is a playhouse ). This phrase was slightly re-worded in the William Shakespeare play As You Like It - "All the world’s a stage" which was performed at the Globe Theater.
The Audiences The Elizabethan general public (the Commoners) referred to as groundlings would pay 1 penny to stand in the 'Pit' of the Globe Theater. The gentry would pay to sit in the galleries often using cushions for comfort! Rich nobles could watch the play from a chair set on the side of the Globe stage itself. Theatre performances were held in the afternoon, because, of course, there was no artificial lighting. Men and women attended plays, but often the prosperous women would wear a mask to disguise their identity. The plays were extremely popular and attracted vast audiences to the Globe. The audiences only dropped during outbreaks of the bubonic plague, which was unfortunately an all too common occurrence during the Elizabethan era. This happened in 1593, 1603 and 1608 when all theaters were closed due to the Bubonic Plague (The Black Death). The Shakespearean actors were therefore temporary out of work and left London to stay in other parts of England. William Shakespeare no doubt used these periods of closure to write more plays and go home to Stratford.
History The Globe Theatre is located in the Southwark district of London. The Globe was built in his early career in 1599. It was built by his long standing associate, Cuthbert Burbage.
Facts The Globe was made to withstand 2,000 to 3,000 spectators. There was no lighting in the theatre, so all productions were played weather permitting. Most plays were conducted between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Considering that the theatre was completely open, acoustics were poor and the actors had to shout their lines.
The Theatre The theatre used no background scenery in their productions. The theatre consisted of no curtains and no stagehands. The change of scenes took place in the actors lines instead.
The Theatre The stage platform was about 43 feet wide, 27-28 feet deep, and 5 feet off the ground. Underneath the floors of the outer and inner stages was a large cellar called “hell,” for dramatic scenes for ghosts.
The Theatre The Globe Theatre had a capacity of 1500 people. There was no heating in the theatre. The Globe was built similar to the coliseum Shakespeare and his company built two Globe theatres To advertise the performances, flags would be flown above the theatre.
Other Info… Black flags meant tragedy, white flags meant comedy, and red meant history At this time, copyrights did not exist, so rival theatres would send people to spy. There were no actresses, males would play female parts. Many of boy actors died of poisoning due to lead in their makeup. To get into the theatre, people would place pennies into a box at the door, this box would then be brought into a back office, coining the term “box office.”
The Fire Fire at the Globe Theatre occurred on June 29, 1613. A prop cannon shot an ember into the thatched roof during a performance of Henry VIII. Originally the theatre was thought to be a fire hazard because the whole theatre was built of timber. The audience thought it was part of the play, so at first nobody moved.
The Fire Continued… Only one man was injured. He had fire set to his “behind” and put it out with a bottle of ale. The theatre had only two narrow doors, for which, all 1500 audience members plus, had to exit. The second globe theatre was built in 1614.