The theatre is a type of art, which was born from
communication with the gods, rituals for various cults and to entertain people
in their free time. Theatre was also the place where people got a political and
social education, it was also used as a place of civic and philosophical
debates and had functioned as a spiritual purification. They have been designed
as temples of art and they were seeking to remove their audience from everyday
concerns and to send them in some virtual reality but the function of the
theatre since the early beginnings is to entertain people. Theatre brings
stories and performances to amuse the
public and with stories it brings pleasure. This makes it an important part of
life for some people and for theatre to complete its purpose, it needs space.
Theatres have been located everywhere, from the most elegant residential areas
to working-class neighborhoods so it is available for everyone. Normally nowadays we imagine theatre as a
building that has a architectural space designed for performances , but in
medieval times there are examples where theatres existed as an important part
of urban life and they didn’t have any specific architectural elements devoted
for its use. In 1597 Cuthbert Burbage had inherited a theatre in London which
was the first of its type but it was just called The Theatre. Using this
building as a base and adding some materials in the theater it became the most
impressive theatre which was built in 1597-1598. This theatre is also called as
The Shakespeare globe theatre, because it was a place where Shakespeare staged
most of his greatest plays. Plays in the globe theatre usually started at three
o’clock. There were three types of flags which were hang on the flag mast and
used to indicate what type of play was to be played. Red was for history ,
white for comedy and the black flag would indicate that tragedy it was a day
for tragedy usually that play would include death scenes. The first Folio was
published in 1623 and was a collection of 36 plays by Shakespeare. None of his
plays were published when he was alive but written plays by Shakespeare were
performed at the globe theatre. A tourist called Thomas Platter said in his
diary that he had witnessed an amazing performance on Julius Cesar, which was
performed by 15 actors. Also many notable plays were performed during 1600-1613
starting with hamlet and ending with Henry VIII. Also a lost play of Shakespeare
called Cardenio should have been played in 1612. This period was very harsh for
people in Britain and death was a part of everyday life . People were searching
for relief from this reality and found it in the theatre and Elizabeth was one of those people. She attended many
plays and other forms of entertainment so theatre became a vital part of
Elizabethan culture. The audience wanted more and more plays and shakespear
started to write more smooth and entertaining plays that time. The plays were
unlike today, because there were no backdrops, acoustics were bad and actors
had to shout their lines so everyone could hear them. Because of this viewer’s
and their imagination were more involved in plays and spectators where other
interesting aspect. The theatre could find room for 3 thousand people so It was
open for everyone. People of all status came in this theatre, but mostly it
were poor people. They paid 1 Penny and could stand in the yard, but wealthier
people payed 2-3 pennys for seats. There were also 3 circular galleries and
they were the most comfortable and showed the status of a person and the price
was about 5-6 pennys. Because it was almost always full with people it caused
some problems, for example people didn’t bath in Elizabethan times and diseases
could be spread easily in this circumstances so tuberculosis and other diseases
have killed a big amount of people.
Inside the theatre was very different
than one might expect. Most of the audience were seating very close to each
other the stench was quite horrendous that’s why all the Holes in the roof over
the stage were designed to let more wind in. Without an overhead roof, such a
view was exposed, but with the stage set at eye level some 5 feet off the
ground, you got the closest view in the house. The audience behaviour were very
bizarre in theatre and they reacted in different ways as for example throughout
plays, audiences ate, drank, spat, argued, booed, fought, and even threw fruit
at the actors. In 1613, an immense tragedy happened during a performance of
Henry VIII. The thatched roof caught on fire very quickly and burned to the
ground. The spectators escaped safely, with some exception of one man who was
badly burned. In the Elizabethan times fire was e real problem because almost
every building was constructed by wood and thatch. Oil lamps or candles were
used for light and usually they caused lot of accidents. Also The draperies and
thatched roofs were very dry and burned like very fast, which was the case in
The Globe Theatre. Fire extinguishers or fire departments were a actual
difficulty at the time, so the normal practice was to get leather fire buckets,
fill them with water, and dump them on the blaze. In 1614 anew Globe Theatre
was rebuilt shortly before Shakespeare’s death (referred to as Globe 2). This
time, the construction of the new globe was different. It had a tile roof and
most importantly, fire exits. It never stood up to the figure of the original
Globe, but remained as a memory of William Shakespeare and his theatre. In 1642,
under a violent actions used by the puritan, British parliaments ordered to
stop all the theatrical plays. The Puritans were a religious group and the term
came into general usage at the end of the reign of Queen Mary I (Bloody Mary).
Puritans meant ‘those who wanted to completely change the Church of England,
with its Roman Catholic type of structure and traditions, for another reformed
and plain church model’. This was a strict religious mentality which increased
in many activities in England and developed superficial behaviour by moving to
a stricter cod. In 1644 the Puritans demolished the globe theatre.
One of the most notable thing of the globe theatre is its architecture. The
architecture of the theaters in medieval period was influenced by roman and
greek and we can see that the globe theatre’s has a similar architecture to an
amphitheater. Elizabeth loved roman and Greek architecture which we can see in
face of the columns in the entrances of her houses . he Globe Theatre was
framed with massive upright, vertical timbers, which they were supported by
diagonal timbers. The wattle walls were daubed with mortar and whitewash was
then applied. This process resulted in very typical style of black and white
half of the Elizabethan era. With wood architecture two great columns were
included in the architecture of the Elizabethan theatres which were called
‘Herculean’ columns or pillars. These columns were painted to resemble marble.
Based on John Ore’s information we know the dimensions of the original globe.
Diameter: 100 ft surface to surface / 99 ft centre to centre
Yard: 70 ft between post centers / 69 ft surface to surface
Stage: 49 ft 6 inches across
Stage height: 5 feet.
Gallery Depth: 15 ft 6 inches overall / 15 ft 6 inches between post centers
Overall height: 36 ft. 6 in.
Overall heights from floor to floor: 15 ft. 6 in., 11 ft. 3 in. and 9 ft. 9 in.
to the plates.
Balcony floor: 18 ft. 6 in. above the yard, 13 ft 6 in. above stage.
Front Scene doors: 11 feet tall.
Heavens ceiling height: 26 ft 9 inches (to the height of the upper gallery
floor) The dimensions of the new Globe
33 ft high to the eaves, 45 ft overall.
100 ft diameter
300 ft circumference .
capacity: 1600, including 700 standing places.
We can look at this building from the view of functionality and that is very
important so this theatre has some amazing numbers regarding functionality but
it wasn’t remarkable for its interior. The interior in medieval usually echoed
the richness of the surrounding palace but the interior for globe was poor and
simple. But as I have mentioned it had special areas for poor people and rich
so those areas had different interior.
for example Lords Rooms were considered the best seats in the ‘house’. They
were certainly the most expensive seats but why were they considered the best?
The Lords Rooms were situated in the balconies, or galleries, at the back of
the stage above the Tiring Rooms. The seats cost 5d – five times more than the
pit. The Lords Rooms provided a poor view of the play and the back of the
actors. But these seats were the closest to the actors and therefore these
wealthy theatre goers were able to hear every word of the play and the sound
quality in the Globe Theatre was poor. These upper class Elizabethans believed
that they were better able to appreciate the finer points of dialogue – in fact
plays produced in the enclosed and more expensive playhouses were deliberately
text-heavy to suit the more intimate atmosphere and more exclusive clientele.
The other good reason for these exclusive seats were because the audience would
have a good view of the Lords. These Elizabethan nobles were able to show-off
their fine clothes to the lower classes. The type of clothes worn during the
Elizabethan era were strictly dictated by the Sumptuary Laws. People who lived
during Elizabethan times were not allowed to wear whatever they liked! It did
not matter how wealthy they were – the fabric, and even the style of their
clothes were dictated by rank, status or position and these strict rules were
enforced by English Law. Due to the Statutes of Apparel (The Sumptuary Laws )
ordinary Elizabethans were not able to wear the latest fashions. Fashionable
clothes would only be seen at a distance, when wealthy nobles or Royalty were
in view! The Lords had no interest in the Lower Classes – and the Lords Rooms
enabled them to keep a good distance from the ‘rabble’ in the pit. The Globe
audience who paid the least entrance money stood in the pit and were often
referred to as ‘Groundlings’. However, due to the hot summer days they were
also referred to as ‘Stinkards’ for obvious reasons. The nobles would also wish
to keep their distance from the lower classes because of the terrible and
constant threat of the frequent outbreaks of the Bubonic Plague.