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Shakespeare's Globe the very first theater

Updated on May 16, 2015

In 1642, the Globe theatre in Southwark, London closed its theatre doors for the last time, England’s Puritan’s; a Protestant group passed an act through Parliament by Law demanded that all playhouses to be closed to the general public. Then two years later in 1644 the theatre was torn down so Tenement rooms could be built instead..

The Shakespeare Globe

Forty-six years previously in 1598 James Burbage a joiner by profession and amateur actor who was part of the Lord Chamberlain men, along with the rest of the acting company had been evicted out of Blackfriars theater. The outlook for the actors was looking bleak, especially if they wanted to compete with their rivals the Admirals men who owned the Rose theatre. In answer to the obstacles facing James his only option was to build another theatre in Shoreditch, London. James invested his own money, but it didn’t cover the building costs needed to construct it. He came up with a plan, the theater should be funded through shareholders, James would own twenty-five percent, Lords Chamberlain men owned fifty percent, three other members (one of them Will Kemp an actor who pulled out of the share deal) would co-own twelve and half percent along with an up and coming playwright who started writing plays for them William Shakespeare. James died after the theater was built in February 1597, leaving it to his son Richard Burbage, a professional actor who had left the Admirals men to join the Lord Chamberlain's men. Richard soon discovered after he inherited the theater from his father, the land leased to the theater was built on expired in 1597. Giles Allen the landlord of the theatre should have by law been the rightful owner. Not wanting to lose the theatre to the Landlord, the Chamberlain’s men managed to perform plays at a nearby Curtain playhouse while a lengthy two-year dispute with the landlord continued. Richard along with his brother Cuthbert decided to remove twelve large oak beams and moved them by boat to Southwark; on a plot of land that he had bought the lease which was just opposite the Rose theatre. It formed the polygon foundations of the new theatre and the Globe theatre was born. The Lord Chamberlain’s men decided to fly a flag of Hercules with a Globe over his shoulder, which they named the Globe theatre. The main entrance to the new playhouse had the motto above "Totus mundus agithistrionem" (the whole world is a playhouse). Two doors on either side of the stage allowed actors to enter and leave, the central balcony was flanked by two other balconies for wealthy audiences. The courtyard which was on the ground floor of the playhouse was five feet below the stage. The Lord’s Chamberlain men changed their name to the King’s men in honour of King James 1. While William Shakespeare became famous for having his plays performed at the Globe Theatre, Richard Burbage became one of the most famous actors of his era. On 29 June, 1613 during a performance of Henry V111 a misfired cannon from the stage ignited the thatch roof of the Globe. No one was hurt when a fire broke out at the Globe, but the playhouse burned to the ground. A year later it was rebuilt and for further twenty-eight years the Playhouse continued to perform plays for the general public. That was up until the Puritan Law, which was passed in 1642.

In 1996 plans to rebuild a Shakespeare Globe theatre were commissioned, close to the original location of the Globe. Archived designs which formed the original plans used in 1599 to 1613 were used in the building of Shakespeare’s Globe.


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    • dreamaserve profile imageAUTHOR

      Chase Smith 

      3 years ago from London, Great Britain

      Thanks for that comment bigj1969

    • bigj1969 profile image

      John Marshall 

      3 years ago from glasgow

      Fantastically detailed hub,so informative.great read.


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