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Shakespeare and the Golbe

These days most theater goers 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
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 Chamberlains Men, which was later known as the Kings
Men.  Shakespeare was also accounted as one of Richard Burbages associates when
Ben Jonson was also a well known playwright that wrote for the court of King
James I.

His first play was performed by the Chamberlains 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 doesnt 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 Gentlemens Room, part of the
middle gallery, it is said that the Gentlemens Room had a good view of the actors on
stage.  It cost three pence to see a performance from the Gentlemens 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 Lords 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
Many often wonder about the flag that was commonly seen flying above The

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
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 Shakepeares times.

Works Cited

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.  Worlds (Globe Theater History).  WWW

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