Tag Archives: Shakespeare

410 years of Globe Theatre


The Roman invasion marked the beginning of Theatres in London. The theatres build by Romans were demolished with their decline. After that the entertainments were held in church squares, market places etc. In the sixteenth century, travelling Drama groups were formed all over the country. James Burbage, an actor in one of these drama groups marked the beginning of theatres in renaissance London.

James Burbage

James Burbage

Burbage was a talented actor and soon to be the lead of a drama group. According to the law passed in Britain in 1572, the moving drama groups must be parented by a noble, and it is by his/her name the drama group must ne known after. Else, the owners and the actors were punished severely. By this law, Burbage sorted the parentage of Lord Chamberlain and the drama group soon became famous as the ‘Chamberlain Men’. As the ‘Chamberlain Men’ became widely accepted, another celebrity came forward to parentage the Chamberlain Men – Queen Elizabeth herself !. As a result, the drama group Chamberlain Men became widely popular as ‘Queensmen’. Queen’s parentage was a boon and confidence factor for Burbage who was by then thinking of a permanent theatre for his group. In 1576, he build a theatre at  Shoreditch. The theatre was known as the ‘ Tudor theatre ‘. In 1596, the theatre was moved to Black Frayers.

In 1597, James Burbage passed away. His son, Richard Burbage took the path laid off by his father. At those times, all Shakespearean  dramas were held at Black Frayers theatre. By then, the land lease with the owner has been expired and it was required to move the theatre to a new place. At that time,there was two groups between the dramatists. Chamberlain group(Queens), that includes the Shakespeare and the Admiral group. Admiral group had a theatre called ‘Roseplay house’ to stage their dramas. So, the building of a new theatre became a matter of proud for Shakespeare and his mates. But the funding for theatre construction was not that easy. Atlast every one decided that, Richard will make 25% investment in theatre and rest of the fund will be collected by the others in the group. In 1599, at Southwark, on the banks of Thames river, the construction of Globe Theatre was completed. The Globe theatre became  as famous as Shakespeare along with his dramas.

Globe Theatre, london

Globe Theatre, London

The architecture of the theatre reminds of a modern football stadium. The centre is open and stage is designed as if projecting from the centre, with green room behind it. There is a main door from here to the stage, along with two side doors. The theatre is fully made of wood. In its 3 floored design, it had the capacity to accommodate 3000 audience. The main achievement of the theatre was that fact that it was able to attract audiences from all levels of society.

The inaugural play of Globe theatre was ‘Julius Caesar’  in 21st of September 1599. There was enough advertisement and along with the its purpose for hosting their Drama, the theatre also served the monetary requirements of Shakespeare and team.

Richard Burbage was the major share holder of the theatre and also the main actor. It’s widely said that Shakespeare created characters with Richard in his mind. The best comedian actor at those times was another share holder of the theatre, William Kemp, along with Robert Armin. The main actors include, John Hemming and Henry Condell, wholater comprised all Shakespearian works and published ‘First Folio’. In between, Shakespeare also shared stages at times along with the his writings. The ghost in Hamlet, The Adam in ‘ As you like’,The Duke in ‘Merchant of Venice’,  Escalus in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ are the characters lifed by creator itself.

In 1613, the Globe theatre was consumed by fire. It was during the act out of ‘Hentry VIII’, co written by Shakespeare and John Fletcher. Though it was reconstructed and performances were started within a year, after a long 30 years, the theatre was completely dismantled in 1644.

New Globe Theatre, London

New Globe Theatre, London

Starting from 1987, a 10 year long hard work has lead to remake of old Globe theatre in its original design, very near to its old location itself. Today on 21st of September, at 41oth anniversary of the first drama in Globe theatre, lets remember a man who spilled life into many characters in his life time, and made a standard of his own in the history of modern English Literature.

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