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Shannon Ozzimo
Mrs. Hargraves
English II
February 20, 2012

The History of the Globe Theater

Said to be the most famous Elizabethan playhouse, the Globe Theater was built in 1599
by the Chamberlin Company (Aliki). It was constructed on the shore of the Thanes River in
London (Mulyrne and Shewring). According to an online source, Shakespeare, James Burbage,
his two sons, and five members of the troupe were the owners of the Globe Theater (The Old
Globe Theater). They were originally called the Lord Chamberlains Men but King James I later
changed their name to The Kings Men. The residents of London were appreciating the
entertainment. In response, many theaters were being erected throughout the countryside during
this period (Aliki). The Globe Theater was created in the eventful time of the Elizabeth era,
hosted a multitude of plays by famous play writes like Shakespeare, and experienced its
destruction by the Puritans.

Constructed in 1599, The Globe Theater was a large circular building made out of wood.
The Globe Theater had a hexagonal structure with an inner court of about 55 feet across. The
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building was three-stories high and did not have a roof (Malbillard). An online source states that
there were three semicircular galleries and an open courtyard which could hold over 1,500
people at once. In the center of the playhouse there was the main stage that was five feet tall.
(Hopkins). Towards the back of this stage, there were two doors and the main entrance which
consisted of a central curtain. Behind those doors, there were rooms for the actors to get ready in
(Malbillard). On the third level of the Theater was where all of the announcements were
publicized. Also, the playhouse had a flag that would often displayed advertisements for plays
that were currently being performed. There were three rows of seating that were in a circular
shape wrapping around the inside of the playhouse. According to an online source, there were
different sections of seats that were more expensive than others because of how comfortable they
were (Hopkins).

The Globe Theater produced many different plays that brought in enormous audiences to
watch. As soon as a play had been written, it was instantly produced. The actors at the Globe
Theater originally used foul papers or prompt to perform their plays (Aliki). Because there
were no laws of copyright in Elizabethan England, rival theater establishments would send
people from their theater to be present at other theaters plays so that they could produce
unauthorized copies of plays. Throughout the plays, many notes were taken which is known as
quarto texts. This type of plagiarism led to many difficulties. All different versions of William
Shakespeare plays were being performed (Malbillard).

According to an online source, the plays at the Globe Theatre would normally start
around three o'clock. There were flags that soared form the flag pole at the highest point of the
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Globe Theatre that would indicate whether the play that was about to be performed was a
history, a comedy or a tragedy. Also, before the play would start, people would go outside the
Theater to watch entertainers at no cost. These mini shows were known as Green Shows.
When the show was about to start, a blast of trumpets would signal that it was playtime (Globe
Theater Plays).

The costumes at the Globe Theatres were tremendous. They were made out of
extravagant materials and had glowing colors. Most of the costumes the actors wore were
extremely costly. Some of the costumes were specifically made for a certain actor but others
were provided by wealthy patrons. Because the Globe Theater plays had to be produced in a
great hurry, not enough time was available to make costumes that characterized the correct
actors. A mixture of Roman and Elizabethan clothing were seen together on stage (Globe
Theater Costumes).

Elizabethans were not permitted to dress in whatever they wanted to no matter how rich
he or she was. The fabric and style of clothing that was allowed to be worn was based off of the
rank or status of a person. These harsh rules were imposed by English Laws about clothing
which was called the Sumptuary Laws. The goal of these laws was to limit the spending on
clothing and preserve the social structure of the Elizabethan Class system (Globe Theater
Costumes). The lower class was not allowed to dress in the newest styles. The only time
fashionable clothing was seen was at far away distances when the wealthy nobles were in view.
Therefore, when residents got the chance to see the actors costumes in the Globe Theatre, it was
a great pleasure to them (Schmidt). The Sumptuary Laws were strictly obeyed because the
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penalties for violating them were very harsh. According to an online source, the English
Sumptuary Law of 1574 (The Statutes of Apparel) contained the following clause:

" Note also that the meaning of this order is not to prohibit a servant from wearing any
cognizance of his master, or henchmen, heralds, pursuivants at arms; runners at jousts,
tourneys, or such martial feats, and such as wear apparel given them by the Queen, and
such as shall have license from the Queen for the same."(Globe Theater Costumes)

This section applied to all of the actors at the Globe Theater and the costumes that they were
dressing in. Acting casts had to be approved. Licenses were permitted by the Queen and these
licensed acting casts were allowed to disobey the stringent Sumptuary Laws. (Mulyrne and
Shewring).

Because there were several different theaters in the area, there was fierce competition
between them. Whoever had the best plays and special effects would draw in bigger audiences.
An online source states that the Globe Theater had extravagant special effects including smoke,
fireworks, music, trap-doors and flying entrances (Green). Because a lot of the effects involved
fire, it was very unsafe. Unfortunately, these safety precautions were never discussed. On June
29
th
, 1613, the thatched roof caught on fire from a canon that was being fired (Schmidt). Since
the theater was made out of wood, it burst into flames killing many people. In 1614, the Globe
Theatre started to be reconstructed (Green).

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When the Theater was done being constructed, it lasted 30 years until the final
destruction. In 1644, the Puritans destroyed the Globe Theater. Two years before this event, the
English Puritan Parliament issued a command that all theaters would stop stage plays. The
Puritans had moved England to a much harsher code of conduct. Everybody who lived in
England was no longer allowed to wear fine clothes and all offhand behaviors were banned.
Soon later, the English Civil War broke out between the Puritans and the Royalists leading to the
end of the Globe Theater (Schmidt). The austere religious outlooks of the Puritans spread to the
downfall of many social activities happening in England which included the activities in the
Globe Theatre. The Puritans wanted the Globe Theater to be gone and they accomplished their
goal by destroying it (Hopkins).

As Ben Johnson once said regarding Shakespeare, "He was not of an age, but for all
time"(The Theatre). The Globe Theater is a historical structure that represents artistic expression
and its history represents the constant fight between the Puritans and the Royalist (Schmidt). The
Globes old-fashioned construction shows us a glimpse at the exquisite past of Elizabethan times.
Many historically important figures including Shakespeare, and works of arts, have set foot in
this unforgettable establishment. Numerous plays were performed at the Globe Theater. The
original Globe Theater was the home for most of Shakespeares plays. Becoming a necessity in
many of the residents lives, the memoirs that were made at the Globe Theater will never be
overlooked. The Globe Theater was constructed in the eventful time of the Elizabeth era, many
plays by famous play writes were performed, and it experienced its final destruction by the
Puritans.