The Globe is the theatre most associated with William Shakespeare, and many of his plays were first performed there. The theatre, which is explicitly referred to in Henry V as “This wooden O,”was a public building, built of wood on the south bank of the Thames River. It was a circular, or perhaps polygonal structure, three stories high, whose roof was open to the sky. A flag flew at the top of a flagpole to announce to the public that there would be a performance that day. The theatre was often closed due to outbreaks of the plague.
That’s the information that one would expect to learn in high school English, but there are more facts about the Globe that you might find interesting. Here are some of them:
- The best seats in the house were actually on the stage itself. Very wealthy and important patrons, including Elizabeth I, would sit on stools on the stage next to the actors, often getting in the way of the action.
- Actors sometimes used real guns with real bullets as props in the plays. In 1587, an actor aimed a pistol at another actor and fired. The bullet missed the actor, as planned, but accidentally killed a spectator.
- The Globe was built on the southern banks of the Thames because it was out of jurisdictions of the city of London. Certain “immoral” activities were allowed south of the river, including theatrical productions, prostitution, cock-fighting, and bear-baiting. Bear bating was a sport in which a chained bear was mauled to death by dogs in front of a cheering audience. Shakespeare borrowed a tame bear for A Winter’s Tale, and had it chase a character off the stage.
building could have used on June 29, 1613–a sprinkler system.
|Renee at the reconstructed Globe, 2003.|
Anderson, Robert. “Shakespeare and His Theatre: A Perfect Match.” Elements of Literature, Third Course. Austin: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2005. 778-780. Print
Deary, Terry. Top Ten Shakespeare Stories. New York: Scholastic Inc, 1998. 54-65.
“The Renaissance Theatre.” Elements of Literature, Sixth Course. Austin: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2008. 426-432. Print