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Renaissance Theater
The Reconstructed Globe
Theater in London.
Sam Wanamaker CBE 1919-1993
When the young American actor came to
London in 1949, he set out to visit the site
of Shakespeare’s Globe and was amazed to
find that the only testimony to its existence
was a blackened bronze plaque on the wall of
a brewery. He conceived of a finer memorial
to the great playwright, a replica of the
Globe itself.
The Theatres in Shakespeare’s time were built
outside the wall of London for multiple reasons:
firstly, the suburbs expanded and they ran out of
room; secondly, the theaters were considered dens
of immoral behavior because they took people away
from work in the afternoon thusly outside the wall
was outside the jurisdiction of the Privy Council
who controlled the opening and closing of the
theatres; finally, there was just more room to build
the theatres. Other industries thrived in the
Southwark suburb: animal baiting pits, prostitution,
and other shady enterprises.
James Burbage built the first theater in 1576 and
named it “the Theater.”
Before the building of the “Theater,” plays were
performed in the courtyard of and inn or tavern.
The “Curtain” was the next theater built, the
“Curtain” was built in the London Suburbs, more
specifically in the Red Light District.
In order of construction – Rose, Swan, Fortune,
Globe, and the Red Bull.
The Globe was erected from the timbers of the
• The Design of the theater
is in the shape of a circle
courtyard like the
courtyard of an Inn,
because the original
traveling performers
performed in the
courtyards of beer halls
and inns, with a natural
open air atmosphere that
allowed the elements to be
a factor.
Cross Section
Three Parts to the Theatre
The Building Proper
Three stories high surrounding a spacious inner yard
open to the sky.
16 sided polygon
2 entrances, 1 public, 1 for theater company
General Admission – 1 penny, entitled to
“groundling” – stand in the yard
Patrons paid more to sit in the galleries
Most expensive seats were on the stage off to the
side – nuisance to audience and actors
Held 3,000 people
Three Parts to the Theatre
The Stage
Jutted out halfway into the yard.
Actors were in much closer contact with the audience
than they are today.
Audiences realized that the play was make-believe.
Audiences wanted fantasy over reality because
reality was so harsh, escapist attitude.
Three Parts to the Theatre
The Tiring House – “Backstage”
Tall building contained machinery, dressing rooms, and provided a two
storey back wall for the stage.
Gallery above and curtained space below.Gallery – for musicians or
spectators, or parts of the play could be performed there. Doubled as
a balcony, wall, hill, etc.
Curtained Area – “Inner Stage” – “Indoors”Doubled as a bedroom,
dungeon, throne room, etc.
Trap Door – Gate to Hell, Tomb, Downstairs, People could vanish
Heaven – Opening in roof of stage – ascension of characters
Scenery – audiences were ready to use their imaginations. Writers could
write scenery in the text – advantage, fast paced, not many scene
changes.Props and Effects – painted brightly, many decorations,
costumes, elaborate, and expensive.
• The rebuilt Globe
theater is designed and
built with the same
materials with which the
original was built.
• The brickwork is mud,
horsehair, and
• The roof is thatched.
This structure boasts the only thatched roof
in England because of the fire hazard. It has a
modern sprinkler system.
Modern lighting was added for security and safety
reasons as well as more than one entrance and exit for
the public.
Public Door
Single Section of Octagon
Expensive Seats on the Stage
Curtained Area
Tiring House
Full Stage, Trap Door in Middle
The Yard
Virtual Tour