Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Globe Theatre

The pit taken from a prime
booth on the side.
The Globe Theatre has a long history, originally built in about 1599. It was the home for many of Shakespeare’s famous plays, although it was burnt down, rebuilt and finally closed by 1642. The Globe that now sits in London is actually a more modern reconstruction of the original theater, located a few hundred feet away from the first location.  The stage is located at one end of the circle, with a large open area called the “pit” in front of it. This was the “standing room only” section of the theater, the place where many of the “groundlings” (poorer people) stood to watch the play. Sometimes it involved moving quickly to get out of the way of the actors because all scenes were not carried out exclusively on the stage. Behind this area, there was more traditional seating located around the stage. The entire center of it was open, and the show went on despite the weather – you just got wet if it was raining – actors and audience both!

The "Heavens" complete with a "dead deer"
ready to descend to the stage.
The stage itself was amazingly plain, yet it was also extremely flexible. There was the traditional trap door that allowed performers to enter or exit from below as well as a balcony that might have the musicians, be used for storage, or for balconies scenes as a play demanded. In the “roof” of the stage there were more trap doors, painted to depict the heavens, with winches and such to enable performers or props to descend as needed.

The prime “box” seats were not across from the stage, they were actually right on the side and very close and apparently it was quite common for the royalty of the day to kibitz and interact with the actors, expressing their opinions and acting suggestions (or jeers).

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