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Shakespeare And The Golbe Essay, Research Paper

These days most ?theater go?ers? would pay one hundred dollars to see an exceptional

performance of Romeo and Juliet , but as we go back to the year 1599, people crowded

the doors of The Globe to pay a penny or less to see plays done by Shakespeare and many

others. The Globe not only played (no pun intended) as a stage for blossoming actors, but

also served as the stage for many well known playwrights and gave them the atmosphere

and audience they needed to succeed. It also allowed for all types of classes and people to view the plays and had an adverse affect on society, both positivly and negaitvly.

The first Globe was built in 1598, by Richard Burbage and his associates. Its

location in Southwark, London, provided some what of a central spot for spectators that

came from all over to see productions by the many English writers. The Globe was built of

remaining timbers from The Theatre, the first public theater in London. The Theatre was

built in 1576 by James Burbage(Hodges). After The Globe was built, Julius Caesar was the

first recorded play performed at the new facility. This Globe, known as the ?wooden O?

by the famous William Shakespeare was burnt to the ground in 1613, during a

performance of Henry VIII . It was soon rebuilt on the same foundation in

1614, but again tragedy struck when Puritans closed the second Globe about thirty years

later in 1642. This was also the year the Puritans closed all the other public

playhouses in London. In 1644 The Globe was destroyed and the foundations were buried

to build new tenements.

Many famous plays were performed by innumerable actors at The Globe in all the

years it was opened. One of the most well known actor and playwright to come out of

The Globe, was William Shakespeare. In 1592, Shakespeare formed a reputation for his

poetry and sonnets, when his narrative poems, Venus and Adonis were both published.

Most people today, though know Shakespeare for his thirty-eight plays that have shaped

our theatrical culture today(Hodges). It is also documented that Shakespeare was the one who

formed the company called the Chamberlain?s Men, which was later known as the King?s

Men. Shakespeare was also accounted as one of Richard Burbage?s associates when

building The Globe.

Ben Jonson was also a well known playwright that wrote for the court of King

James I. His first play was performed by the Chamberlain?s Men, with Shakespeare in the

cast at The Globe. Jonson wrote a varied selection of plays, including many comedies and

historical tragedies. Jonson was also well known for his critical side, which probably

caused his impact on English literature. He protested the mix of tragedy and comedy, as

well as protesting the dramatic principals of Aristotle. We now recognize his witty and

comical approach to life in London (Encarta).

Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher were a team of playwrights at The Globe.

Their collaborations resulted in many diverse characters and ingenious plots. They were

both major figures in English Restoration drama (Encarta).

?Totus mundus agit histrionem.? translation, The whole world is a stage. This was

the motto of The Globe theater in the renaissance. Besides the stage, there were many

other vital parts to The Globe that made it so special and historical.

The seating was some what arranged like the social classes, depending on how

much you wanted to pay, you could get good seats or great seats.

The Yard or the stinkyards, as they were later known as, were the most popular

place to stand during a production. A person would pay one penny to watch a two hour

performance, standing up (Hodges). Although it doesn?t seem like a very good deal, the stinkyards

could hold up to one thousand people and you could also carry in your own food and

drink to consume during the show. They were known as the ?stinkyards? because when

you get one thousand people in a small place it will get hot and smelly in a short period of

time, along with all the food and beverages left out in the hot sun.

Another important feature of The Globe, were the Galleries. The Galleries, a step

up from The Yard, could hold around one hundred people, seated on wooden benches.

The benches of course were not padded, it is said that your thick layers of clothing helped

some what, but if necessary you could hire a cushion for the duration of the performance.

From the Galleries, the next class up was the Gentlemen?s Room, part of the

middle gallery, it is said that the Gentlemen?s Room had a good view of the actors on

stage. It cost three pence to see a performance from the Gentlemen?s Room and the seats

were also cushioned (Hodges). This section of The Globe was designed for the upper class patrons.

Moving on up the social classes, the Lord?s Room was where the royalty and

aristocrats were seated during a show. Although it cost you six pence to sit here, it was

said these were the best seats in the house, close to both the actors and musicians, located

in the middle section of the balcony.

The Attic, was also a very important part of The Globe. It was a huge room used

for storage of props and costumes. This was also used frequently to hold auditions or


The stage, although most important to the actors, was not kept up the way the rest

of The Globe was. The surface was covered with rushes, which served as an insulant,

used also on many London homes. The stage was five feet high, which was too high to

climb up and too high to jump off. Actors seldom left the stage for fear of harm done to

their costumes or selves.

Many often wonder about the flag that was commonly seen flying above The

Globe. This was a signal to the townspeople that a show was happening that day. Shows

at The Globe took place usually around three in the afternoon and lasted around two

hours. A trumpet was also another signal to the townspeople that a show at The Globe

was about to begin.

There are so many aspects of the famous Globe Theatre that have been hidden

under the buried foundations for over two centuries. But as we begin to explore the

nooks and crannies of The Globe and take a deeper look into what was the focal point of

theatrical performances, we will be able to learn more about Shakespeare and the many

other famous playwrights that let their work onto the stage to be heard around The Globe (Zegers).

We all know that education leads to understanding and by educating the world to what the

Globe had to offer, will bring us to a better understanding of the Elizabethan plays and the

Elizabethan playwrights(?Great?). As we speak they are making attempts to rebuild a replica of

The Globe Theatre, to allow spectators of the twenty-first century to take a step back in

time and view plays like As You Like It, which was the play first performed at the New

Globe. They are now able to see this play and many others in the same

atmosphere as the people of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries saw them.

Now as we look at the affect that The Globe had on society, certain critics would say that The Globe had a positive affect on society. Their arguments are such as having the ability to pay a small fee to see the event in the middle of the play, and allowed for the lower classes to come and view the play(Zegers). However these were the “common” people of that day and they tended to be wild and not be able to properly conduct themselves during the events. The plays of Shakepeare also incorporated aisdes, which are an explanation of the events that have taken place in the play(?Great?). This allowed the culture to become more and more diverse, and learn the concepts of the Shakespearean language and the themes of the events. It has made the commoner a higher class of people, and has made them more aware to certain events such as politcal scandals that would often be revealed during the plays, and would enhance their knowlegde of the fine arts of acting, speaking, and would make them more adepth to the modern writings of Skakespeare(Zegers).

However, critics of The Globe say that the arena helped to promote social seperation among the classes, and promote the rigid class structure that already existed in this time. The lower class people were made to stand in the middle of the theater with no roof and nothing to sit in. The price was one english penny, which most could afford, however, the next and higher classes were permitted to sit in the two penny rooms, which were often much better than the arrangements of the lower class and provided for a better view and better comfort for the viewers(Westerhof). However, due to their class, they were not allowed to sit in these areas. The upper class often spits in the middle of the pit if the crowd would be too rowdy, and often much more time was taken to explain the theorys of the plays in asides due to the little education of the lower class.

In conclusion, one can say that The Globe made for both positve and negative affects on the people of that time. There was a certain air to the theater and it shall forever remain a trademark of the Shakespearean times. One can not mention Shakepeare without the likeness of his theater. However bad the negative affects The Globe had on the socitey of that time, one can say that there was never a structure that was more noticable or more representative of the ideals and theories of a playwright. The Globe shall forever live on and is currently being restored to look more and more like The Globe of Shakepeare?s times.


Hodges, C. Walter. The Globe Restored. Coward-McCann Inc. New York. 1953

?Great Buildings.? WWW


?The Globe.? Encarta Encylclopedia. CD-Rom. 1999 ed.

Westerhof, Nathan. ?The Globe Theater. A Brief History.? WWW


Zegers, John. ?World?s (Globe Theater History).? WWW


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