Globe Theater

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London, Shakespeare's Globe (reconstruction of the Globe Theater)

Globe Theater is the name of an Elizabethan theater building on the south bank of the Thames in London , which has an important place in the history of theater, especially through the performances of William Shakespeare's works. It was built in 1599 and reconstructed near the old site in the 20th century. Several modern replicas of this theater in London and elsewhere also bear the name Globe (“world”).

Original Globe Theater (1599/1613)

History of origin

The Globe Theater was built in 1599 in Bankside , a London borough on the right bank of the Thames . Here, outside the city center, was the recognized entertainment center, and besides the Globe there were other places of entertainment such as The Swan , The Rose , The Fortune and The Hope theaters, as well as an arena for the very popular Bear Baiting , where a chained bear had to fight dogs and human opponents.

The Globe was built by the drama company The Lord Chamberlain's Men (later renamed The King's Men ), which included William Shakespeare . The owner was a community of shares. It consisted of the brothers Richard and Cuthbert Burbage (with a share of 25 percent each), William Shakespeare, John Heminges , Augustine Philips and Thomas Pope (each with 12.5 percent). By 1597 they had owned The Theater on the left side of the Thames , built by Richard and Cuthbert's father James Burbage , but the lease on the property expired and the group decided to move to a modern new theater across the river, in Bankside build. Materials from the demolished The Theater were also used for this purpose.

Shakespeare was the house poet of this company, and all of his plays were performed there in the years that followed, and of course those of many other theatrical poets. It was probably the most successful theater of its time, and the plays were performed with great pomp, with magnificent costumes and music, but according to the Elizabethans' taste with only a few sets or props.

The Globe was destroyed on June 29, 1613 in a fire that broke out during a performance of the play Henry VIII when a cannon was fired and set fire to the thatched roof . Very elaborate performances full of realistic ingredients were quite the rule back then. The theater was soon rebuilt, this time with a tiled roof and opened in July of the following year.

In 1642, the Puritan government closed all entertainment venues and thus also the theaters. The Globe stood empty and was demolished in 1644. Tenement houses were built in its place and the original location of this important theater was forgotten until remnants of the foundations were rediscovered during construction in 1989 .

Construction of the Globe Theater

The exact shape and size of the globe are still not known in detail, but the essential facts are arguably beyond dispute. It was a round or octagonal half-timbered building with an uncovered inner courtyard, three stories high and 30 meters in diameter. It offered space for more than 3000 people. In a play of Shakespeare, Henry V , it is considered wooden O ( wooden O ) described and a contemporary representation of the city London is shown as a round building.

The audience spread over several rooms. The cheapest seats were in the inner courtyard (called the pit or the yard ), which spreads out in front of the big stage. There was only standing room and the standing visitors ( the groundlings ) had to pay a penny for it. In the courtyard they huddled on the nutshells that covered the floor and were exposed to wind and rain in the open air. (The nutshells could also have been used deliberately as a strengthening element of the soil. In combination with ash and earth, they provided a hard surface that, in the case of the Rose Theater , which was excavated in the early 1990s , could only be broken open by archaeologists with a pickaxe .)

In the surrounding galleries there were covered seats that cost a penny more depending on the floor. The seat cushions also had to be paid for separately. The best place was right next to or behind the stage. High people reserved these boxes for themselves (if they were not used in the play) in order to be particularly close to the spectacle and of course to be seen by all other visitors.

The special and also the biggest difference to today's theaters, apart from the unusual design, is probably the close proximity between the audience and the actors. No place was more than 20 meters away from the stage and if you stood in the inner courtyard, the actors were literally within reach.

The rectangular stage protruded into the auditorium ( apron stage ). It was about 15 meters wide and 9 meters deep. In contrast to the inner courtyard, it was covered. This roof not only served to protect the actors from the unpredictable London weather, but was also used as part of the drama. It was splendidly painted and was named the sky ( the heaven ), from there were characters of the play to the stage flying (on ropes are lowered) and there was room for props .

Under the stage there was also a room called the cellarage . Props could through a trapdoor ( trapdoor be brought) from there on the stage, but also an actor used this way to appear in spectacular fashion on the stage, so to speak, from Hell .

There were several entrances to the rear of the stage. At least the middle one could be closed by a curtain and used as part of the play area, for example for intimate scenes. The gallery on the first floor behind the stage was also used for performances. You could use it as a balcony , for example , as in the famous scene from Romeo and Juliet , here a speaker could appear or even a mountain could be climbed. Musicians might also sit on the top floor, adding music to the plays, as is customary in Elizabethan theater. In individual cases, these seats were also given to well-paying spectators.

Behind the stage were the relaxation rooms ( tiring rooms or tiring house , from English to retire - to withdraw), the rooms in which the actors could change clothes or relax between their performances.

Shakespeare's Globe in London (reconstruction and opening 1997)

Panorama of the interior
inner space
Interior and stage
View of the stage
Inner courtyard and auditorium

When the American actor Sam Wanamaker came to London in 1949, he wanted to see the famous Globe Theater and was horrified to find that not only had it disappeared, but that no one knew exactly where it had been. Only a dirty bronze plate on the wall of a brewery reminded of it. So he decided to make the reconstruction of the most famous theater in England - maybe even the world - his life's work. Shakespeare's Globe finally opened in 1997 and has performed several of the famous playwright's plays every summer since then. Sam Wanamaker himself did not live to see the opening, he died of cancer in 1993.

Wanamaker appointed Mark Rylance as the first artistic director of the Globe (from 1995 to 2005) , who he had noticed in 1992 when he was staging The Tempest with his theater company Phoebus Cart on the construction site of the as yet non-existent theater . He and his spectacular performances made the Globe famous and even made a profit regardless of grants, even though it is only open every six months (from May to September).

Exhibits in the in-house museum

The new theater is not at the original location, however, because there on Southwark Bridge Road are the 18th century houses known as Anchor Terrace , which are listed and were not allowed to be demolished. So the reconstructed Globe was built about 230 meters away. It is the first house since the great fire of London in 1666 to be built with a thatched roof , because since then such roofs have been banned in London due to the risk of fire. However, they knew how to take modern safety regulations into account, as the roof is now equipped with sprinkler systems and lightning rods. Another concession to modern security thinking is that instead of the original 3000, only 1500 spectators are allowed in the theater today. This not only ensures that you can stand and sit more comfortably, but also that you can leave the house in the shortest possible time in an emergency.

As with the original, the Globe is an open-air theater, and even today the spectators in the inner courtyard wait in the open air. However, it is no longer isolated, but is connected to a visitor center where an exhibition on the importance and history of the Globe can be seen and where there are also conference and teaching rooms that are mainly used in winter after the theater season has ended.

More replicas

One of the first attempts to recreate an Elizabethan theater was Edward Lutgers' replica of the Globe for the Shakespeare's England exhibition at Earl's Court , London, in 1912. The building was 1: 2 scale and therefore not large enough for performances . More or less exact copies of the Globe Theater, the accuracy of which depended on the level of theater science knowledge at the time and on the intended use, were built over and over again in the 20th century. For example , an “Old Globe Theater” was built in 1936 for the “Texas Centennial Exposition” in Dallas , Texas, but it had little in common with the original Globe.

A modified replica in the form of a multi-storey construction made of wood and steel, which was realized in Rheda-Wiedenbrück for the North Rhine-Westphalian horticultural show in 1988 , has been in Neuss since 1991 and offers space for more than 500 spectators. A Shakespeare festival is held here every summer , at which internationally and nationally renowned troops perform and present the Shakespeare legacy in new ways.

Globe Theater in Schwäbisch Hall

Further replicas in Germany were or are in Schwäbisch Hall (the Haller Globe Theater of the Schwäbisch Hall open-air theater , built in 2000, existed until 2016) and in Europa-Park in Rust (2000). In Babelsberg Film Park was at the shooting of the film Anonymous a replica made. After the shooting, it should be dismantled and put back up in Burghausen - to match the upcoming state exhibition . However, after it had been dismantled, only about a third of the building would have been reusable, which meant that the project failed. Individual elements of the replica, the integrated Shakespeare Company Berlin in their open-air stage in the conservation area nature park south area in Berlin-Schöneberg .

In keeping with the 450 years of William Shakespeare , the Vienna Globe opened in the St. Marx Hall, built according to plans by Michael Niavarani and Georg Hoanzl . The same thing happened at Hardelot Castle , where an Elizabethan theater planned by Andrew Todd was built. A Globe Theater is planned in Coburg , which will be put into operation in 2022 as a replacement venue for the Coburg State Theater .

Other theaters with the same name

Opened in 1906, the Hicks Theater in London's West End was operated under the name Globe Theater from 1909 to 1995 . However, it has nothing in common with the Elizabethan Globe Theater other than name and was renamed the Gielgud Theater in 1995 .

Web links

Commons : Globe Theater  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Information from the Waidspeicher Theater (PDF; 1.4 MB)
  2. Globe theater to stage Shakespeare's Henry VIII 400 years after fire , The Daily Telegraph , February 15, 2010
  3. On the Globe Theater during Shakespeare's lifetime on, page 4; accessed on April 15, 2019.
  4. Andrew Gurr: The Shakespearean Stage 1574-1642, Third Edition, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1992; Page 131.
  5. ^ Carol Chillington Rutter: Documents of the Rose Playhouse, 2nd Edition, (Manchester University Press, 1999), pp. Xiii
  6. Romeo & Juliet - No happy ending without death. Retrieved January 25, 2017 .
  7. Unique all round: Elizabethan Theater near Calais , homepage of Detail magazine . Retrieved December 23, 2017

Coordinates: 51 ° 30 ′ 30 ″  N , 0 ° 5 ′ 50 ″  W.