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THE GLOBE THEATRE Shakespeare's Globe Where in London
    Located on the bank of the River Thames in Bankside's Cultural Quarter, Shakespeare's Globe welcomes thousands of visitors to experience world renowned productions of Shakespeare every day. Shakespeare's Globe is best accessed on foot. There are excellent footpaths along the river from Waterloo and from Southwark Bridge. The Millennium Footbridge is 50 metres from the Theatre.
Who was Shakespeare?
    Everyone thinks they know who Shakespeare was. But sometimes, when someone is as influential and world-famous as William Shakespeare, it’s worth repeating the basics.
    William Shakespeare was a professional actor and playwright from Stratford-Upon-Avon. He worked in London, writing on average three plays a year for the acting company the Lord Chamberlain’s - later King’s - Men, whilst sustaining his family in Stratford.

Whatever we think about him as a writer, he was principally a man of the theatre: he worked collaboratively and knew his playhouses intimately. He acted in plays by other playwrights and, as a shareholder in the Globe he profited from every aspect of the playmaking business. This made him rich, and he is recorded as being a careful and conservative investor.

London theatres
    The theatres were new, controversial and hugely popular but were attacked by churchmen as immoral and dangerous. Banned from the City of London, they were built outside the city in areas called liberties. However, the theatres’ financial success combined with Elizabeth I’s enjoyment of plays enabled the leading companies to achieve wealth and respectability. The Chamberlain’s Men gained royal patronage under King James I.
Original Globe
    The original Globe was an Elizabethan theatre which opened in Autumn 1599 in Southwark, on the south bank of the Thames, in an area now known as Bankside. It was one of several major theatres that were located in the area, the others being the Swan, the Rose and The Hope. The Globe was the principal playhouse of the Lord Chamberlain's Men (who would become the King's Men in 1603). Most of Shakespeare's post-1599 plays were staged at the Globe, including Julius Caesar, Macbeth, Othello, King Lear and Hamlet.
    The Globe was built in 1599 using timber from an earlier theatre, The Theatre, that had been built by Richard Burbage's father, James Burbage, in Shoreditch in 1576. The Burbages originally had a 20-year lease of the site on which the Theatre was built. When the lease ran out, they dismantled The Theatre beam by beam and transported it over the Thames to reconstruct it as The Globe. 
    On June 29, 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 who put out his burning breeches with a bottle of ale. Like all the other theatres in London, the Globe was closed down by the Puritans in 1642. It was destroyed in 1644 to make room for tenements.
    The Globe's actual dimensions are unknown, but its shape and size can be approximated from scholarly inquiry over the last two centuries. The evidence suggests that it was a three-story, open-air amphitheatre about 30m in diameter that could house up to 3,000 spectators. 
Layout of the Globe
    Everybody entered at the same place regardless of where you paid to sit or stand. The stage juts out onto the floor, so some people would view from the side Poor people could get into plays for little money, but had to stand. They were known as Groundlings. It would be very difficult to see unless you were right next to the stage.
    Plays often lasted 4-6 hours and the Groundlings would stand the whole time. The middle to upper class people could afford to sit on the second level. The second level wrapped around both sides of the stage. Only the upper class could afford seats on the third level. For extra money they could get a padded seat.
Rebuilding the Globe
    The project to rebuild Shakespeare’s Globe was initiated by the American actor, director and producer Sam Wanamaker after his first visit to London in 1949. Twenty-one years later he founded what was to become the Shakespeare Globe Trust, dedicated to the reconstruction of the theatre and the creation of an education centre and permanent exhibition. After 23 years spent tirelessly fundraising, advancing research into the appearance of the original Globe and planning the reconstruction with the Trust’s architect Theo Crosby, Sam Wanamaker died in 1993, the site having been secured, the exhibition undercroft structurally complete and a few timber bays of the theatre in place. Three and a half years later the theatre was completed.

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