Theatre History: The Globe

On this day 405 years ago, The Globe Theatre in London burned down during a performance of Shakespeare's Henry VIII. Though it had only been built 14 years earlier the Globe made a tremendous impact on Theatre that can continue to be seen today. 

The Globe was built along the Thames on South Bank in London by Shakespeare's acting company, The Lord Chamberlain's Men. All of the men had about a 12.5% share in the Theatre, except the Burbage's who held a 25% share.

It cost only a penny to stand in what was called the groundlings (which would have been the modern day equivalent of the orchestra). It was one of the first times that theatre became accessible, where plays used to be for the upper classes, anyone in London could now pay a single penny to see live theatre. 

Of course, there were still seats that the common person in London could not afford that separated the upper and lower classes in the theatre. Queen Elizabeth, a great lover of the theatre would often travel to the South Bank of London to see shows at The Globe. 

When audience members would enter the Theatre they would put their payment in a box which is where we get the name for the Box Office. Seating was available around the entirety of the stage, with the most expensive seats being behind the stage. These seats had the worst view of the show but were the most expensive because it allowed whoever sat there to show off their wealth and status. The entire theatre could admire their clothing and jewelry while watching the show.

After the fire, the Theatre was rebuilt the following year but closed in 1642. A replica of the Theatre reopened in 1997 and continues to perform Shakespeare and other playwrights works today. 

If you are visiting London and want to go see Shakespeare's Globe, you can check out their shows here


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