Shakespeare's Globe

Shakespeare's Globe

Shakespeare's Globe
The Globe
Shakespeare's Globe in May 2003
Address 21 New Globe Walk
Southwark, London
England, United Kingdom
Owner The Shakespeare Globe Trust
Opened 1997
Architect Pentagram

Shakespeare's Globe is a reconstruction of the Globe Theatre, an Elizabethan playhouse in the London Borough of Southwark, on the south bank of the River Thames that was originally built in 1599, destroyed by fire in 1613, rebuilt in 1614, and then demolished in 1644. The modern reconstruction is an academic approximation based on available evidence of the 1599 and 1614 buildings. It was founded by the actor and director Sam Wanamaker and built about 230 metres (750 ft) from the site of the original theatre and opened to the public in 1997, with a production of Henry V. The site also includes the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, an indoor theatre which opened in January 2014. This is a reconstruction of the Blackfriars Theatre, another Elizabethan theatre.


  • The original Globe 1
  • Planning and construction 2
  • Other replicas 3
  • Notes 4
  • References 5
  • Literature 6
  • External links 7

The original Globe

The original Globe Theatre was built in 1599 by the playing company, Lord Chamberlain's Men, to which Shakespeare belonged, and was destroyed by fire on 29 June 1613. The fire was caused by an accident with a cannon during a production of Henry VIII.[1] The theatre was rebuilt by June 1614 (the exact opening date is not known), but was officially closed by pressure of Puritan opinion in 1642 and demolished in 1644.[2]

Planning and construction

Stage and galleries

In 1970, American actor and director Sam Wanamaker founded the Shakespeare Globe Trust and the International Shakespeare Globe Centre, with the objective of building a faithful recreation of Shakespeare's Globe close to its original location at Bankside, Southwark. This inspired the founding of a number of Shakespeare's Globe Centres around the world, an activity in which Wanamaker also participated.

Many detractors maintained that a faithful Globe reconstruction was impossible to achieve due to the complications in the 16th century design and modern fire safety requirements; however, Wanamaker persevered in his vision for over twenty years, and a new Globe theatre was eventually built according to a design based on the research of historical adviser John Orrell.[3]

It was Wanamaker's wish that the new building recreate the Globe as it existed during most of Shakespeare's time there; that is, the 1599 building rather than its 1614 replacement.[4] A study was made of what was known of the construction of The Theatre, the building from which the 1599 Globe obtained much of its timber, as a starting point for the modern building's design. To this were added: examinations of other surviving London buildings from the latter part of the 16th century; comparisons with other theatres of the period (particularly the Fortune Playhouse, for which the building contract survives); and contemporary drawings and descriptions of the first Globe.[5] For practical reasons, some features of the 1614 rebuilding were incorporated into the modern design, such as the external staircases.[6] The design team consisted of architect Theo Crosby of Pentagram, structural and services engineer Buro Happold, and quantity surveyors from Boyden & Co. The construction, building research and historic design details were undertaken by McCurdy & Co.[7]

The theatre opened in 1997[8] under the name "Shakespeare's Globe Theatre", and has staged plays every summer. Mark Rylance became the first artistic director in 1995 and was succeeded by Dominic Dromgoole in 2006.[9]

The modern Globe from the River Thames

The theatre is located on Bankside, about 230 metres (750 ft) from the original site—measured from centre to centre.[10] The Thames was much wider in Shakespeare's time and the original Globe was on the riverbank, though that site is now far from the river, and the river-side site for the reconstructed Globe was chosen to recreate the atmosphere of the original theatre. Like the original Globe, the modern theatre has a thrust stage that projects into a large circular yard surrounded by three tiers of raked seating. The only covered parts of the amphitheatre are the stage and the seating areas. Plays are staged during the summer, usually between May and the first week of October; in the winter, the theatre is used for educational purposes. Tours are available all year round. Some productions are filmed and released to cinemas as Globe on Screen productions (usually in the year following the live production), and on DVD.

The reconstruction was carefully researched so that the new building would be as faithful a replica of the original as possible. This was aided by the discovery of the remains of the original Rose Theatre, a nearby neighbour to the Globe, as final plans were being made for the site and structure. Performances are engineered to duplicate the original environment of Shakespeare's Globe; there are no spotlights, plays are staged during daylight hours and in the evenings (with the help of interior floodlights), there are no microphones, speakers or amplification. All music is performed live; the actors and the audience can see each other, adding to the feeling of a shared experience and of a community event.

The building itself is constructed entirely of English oak, with mortise and tenon joints[11] and is, in this sense, an "authentic" 16th century timber-framed building, as no structural steel was used. The seats are simple benches (though cushions can be hired for performances) and the Globe has the first and only thatched roof permitted in London since the Great Fire of 1666.[11] The modern thatch is well protected by fire retardants, and sprinklers on the roof ensure further protection against fire. The pit has a concrete surface,[11] as opposed to earthen-ground covered with strewn rush from the original theatre. The theatre has extensive backstage support areas for actors and musicians and is attached to a modern lobby, restaurant, gift shop and visitor centre. Seating capacity is 857[12] with an additional 700 "groundlings" standing in the pit,[13] making up an audience about half the size of a typical audience in Shakespeare's time.

Other replicas

Globe-Theater, Schwäbisch Hall, Baden-Württemberg, Germany

Replicas and free interpretations of the Globe have been built around the world:

Teatro Shakespeare (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
  • Rome: Globe Theatre[16]
United States


  1. ^ Nagler 1958, p. 8.
  2. ^  
  3. ^ Martin, Douglas (28 September 2003). "John Orrell, 68, Historian on New Globe Theater, Dies".  
  4. ^  
  5. ^ Greenfield, Jon (1997). "Timber framing, the two bays and after". In Mulryne, J. R.; Shewring, Margaret. Shakespeare's Globe Rebuilt. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. pp. 102–3.  
  6. ^ Bowsher, Julian; Miller, Pat (2010). "The New Globe". The Rose and the Globe – playhouses of Shakespeare's Bankside, Southwark.  
  7. ^ McCurdy & Co website
  8. ^  
  9. ^ "Dominic Dromgoole appointed Artistic Director". The Shakespeare Globe Trust. Retrieved 19 March 2007. 
  10. ^ Measured using Google Earth.
  11. ^ a b c McCurdy, Peter. "The Reconstruction of the Globe Theatre". Reading, England: McCurdy and Company. Retrieved 19 December 2009. 
  12. ^ This number can be derived by counting all seats on the detailed seating plans that are shown after selecting an event and start the booking procedure at "Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, London". online. Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, London. 2009. Retrieved 29 November 2009.  and adding another 20 for the "Gentlemen's Rooms" ("Shakespeare's Globe". Gentlemen's Rooms. Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, London. 2009. Retrieved 29 November 2009. )
  13. ^ "Shakespeare's Globe :: Seating Plan and Ticket Prices". Shakespeare's Globe. 2009. Retrieved 2 August 2009. 
  14. ^ Teatro Shakespeare
  15. ^ Globe Theatre Neuss
  16. ^ Italy gets Globe Theatre replica.
  17. ^
  18. ^ The Globe Theatre, 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition at State Fair Dallas
  19. ^ The Old Globe, San Diego.
  20. ^ [1]
  21. ^ [2]


  • Carson, Christie and Karim Cooper, Farah (September 2008) Shakespeare's Globe, A Theatrical Experiment, Cambridge University Press, UK, ISBN 978-0-521-70166-2
  • Nagler, A.M. (1958). Shakespeare's Stage. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.  


  • Carson and Karim-Cooper 'Shakespeare's Globe: A theatrical Experiment' Cambridge University Press, 2008, 9780521701662
  • Day, Barry: This Wooden 'O': Shakespeare's Globe Reborn. Oberon Books, London, 1997. ISBN 1-870259-99-8.
  • Rylance, Mark: Play: A Recollection in Pictures and Words of the First Five Years of Play at Shakespeares's Globe Theatre. Photogr.: Sheila Burnett, Donald Cooper, Richard Kolina, John Tramper. Shakespeare's Globe Publ., London, 2003. ISBN 0-9536480-4-4.

External links

  • Shakespeare's Globe Theatre website
  • Plays performed at the reconstructed Globe (by season) (Shakespeare's Globe)
  • programme about the building of Shakespeare's GlobeThe ReunionApril 2012 BBC Radio 4
  • Globe Theatre Study Guide
  • Building a Piece of History The Story of the New Globe Theatre By Zachary T. Oser
  • Satellite photo of the rebuilt Globe Theatre
  • Rose Theatre Website
  • Entertainment at The Globe in Shakespeare's time
  • 3D Model of Globe Theatre done by Wesleyan University's Learning Objects Studio
  • Shakespeare's Globe at the Shakespeare Resource Center
  • Doctor Who Episode guide for 'The Shakespeare Code'
  • Shakespeare's Globe 2008 'Totus Mundus' season
  • Tokyo Globe Theatre (Japanese only)
  • Teatro Shakespeare Buenos Aires (Mobile construction that evokes an Elizabethan Theatre)