Friday, June 29, 2012

The Globe Theatre


Second Globe Theatre, detail from Hollar's View of London, 1647. Hollar sketched the building from life (see top), but only later assembled the drawings into this View; he mislabelled his images of The Globe and the nearby bear-baiting enclosure. Here the correct label has been restored. The small building to the left supplied food- and ale-sellers at the theatre.

The Globe Theatre was a theatre in London associated with William Shakespeare. It was built in 1599 by Shakespeare's playing company, the Lord Chamberlain's Men, and was destroyed by fire on 29 June 1613. A second Globe Theatre was built on the same site by June 1614 and closed in 1642.
A modern reconstruction of the Globe, named "Shakespeare's Globe", opened in 1997 approximately 750 feet (230 m) from the site of the original theatre.
The Globe was owned by actors who were also shareholders in Lord Chamberlain's Men. Two of the six Globe shareholders, Richard Burbage and his brother Cuthbert Burbage, owned double shares of the whole, or 25% each; the other four men, Shakespeare, John Heminges, Augustine Phillips, and Thomas Pope, owned a single share, or 12.5%. (Originally William Kempe was intended to be the seventh partner, but he sold out his share to the four minority sharers, leaving them with more than the originally planned 10%). These initial proportions changed over time as new sharers were added. Shakespeare's share diminished from 1/8 to 1/14, or roughly 7%, over the course of his career.
The Globe was built in 1599 using timber from an earlier theatre, The Theatre, which had been built by Richard Burbage's father, James Burbage, in Shoreditch in 1576. The Burbages originally had a 21-year lease of the site on which The Theatre was built but owned the building outright. However, the landlord, Giles Allen, claimed that the building had become his with the expiry of the lease. On 28 December 1598, while Allen was celebrating Christmas at his country home, carpenter Peter Street, supported by the players and their friends, dismantled The Theatre beam by beam and transported it to Street's waterfront warehouse near Bridewell. With the onset of more favourable weather in the following spring, the material was ferried over the Thames to reconstruct it as The Globe on some marshy gardens to the south of Maiden Lane, Southwark. While only a hundred yards from the congested shore of the Thames, the piece of land was situated close by an area of farmland and open fields.  It was poorly drained and, notwithstanding its distance from the river, was liable to flooding at times of particularly high tide; a "wharf" (bank) of raised earth with timber revetments had to be created to carry the building above the flood level. The new theatre was larger than the building it replaced, with the older timbers being reused as part of the new structure; the Globe was not merely the old Theatre newly set up at Bankside.  It was probably completed by the summer of 1599, possibly in time for the opening production of Henry V and its famous reference to the performance crammed within a "wooden O". Dover Wilson defers the opening date until September 1599, taking the "wooden O" reference to be disparaging and thus unlikely to be used in the Globe's inaugural staging. He suggests that a Swiss tourist's account of a performance of Julius Caesar witnessed on 21 September 1599 describes the more likely first production. The first performance for which a firm record remains was Jonson's Every Man out of His Humour—with its first scene welcoming the "gracious and kind spectators"—at the end of the year.
On 29 June 1613 the Globe Theatre went up in flames during a performance of Henry the Eighth. A theatrical cannon, set off during the performance, misfired, igniting the wooden beams and thatching. According to one of the few surviving documents of the event, no one was hurt except a man whose burning breeches were put out with a bottle of ale. It was rebuilt in the following year.
Like all the other theatres in London, the Globe was closed down by the Puritans in 1642. It was pulled down in 1644, or slightly later—the commonly cited document dating the act to 15 April 1644 has been identified as a probable forgery—to make room for tenements.

“Worked on the road again today.  Looked rainy this morning but cleared off and has been pleasant most all day.  Father has the hay all raked and bunched, ready to draw.”
Leesah

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