The Rebirth of Shakespeare’s Globe Theater

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Imagine standing in an octagonal shaped structure, enclosing a roofless inner pit. You are standing on a shell-carpeted floor and in front of you is a projected stage; a theater. Behind you are wooden seats and oak balusters. Have any idea of where you are? You are standing in the pit of Shakespeare’s famous Globe Theater. An English actor, Richard Burbage, constructed the Globe Theater in 1599. Unfortunately, it was burned down fourteen years later. In 1613 a cannon, discharged during a performance of Henry VIII, set fire to the thatched roof and destroyed the building (Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 2000). The theater was rebuilt in 1614 but the Puritans destroyed it 30 years later, in 1644. The idea to honor Shakespeare and his plays by reconstructing the Globe was by an American actor and director, Sam Wanamaker. This had been a 27-year epic adventure of the dreams of Wanamaker (Smithsonian Magazine, November 1997). To his content of his trials and tribulations, he “wheedled and cajoled” the British into rebuilding the Bard’s theater (Smithsonian Magazine, November 1997). He began formal fundraising efforts in 1970. He founded the Shakespeare Globe Trust to start the reconstruction that was nearly 400 years late. It would be built from scratch on its original site in Southwark, London, on the South Bank of the Thames River (Smithsonian Magazine, November 1997). Wanamaker died in 1993, and Globe architect Theo Crosby passed away the following year, before the project could be finished. This ambitious undertaking took more than 25 years of effort to recreate an important part of Shakespeare’s life and work (Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 2000). It took a whopping $45 million, and now finished, it is a faithful reproduction of its predecessor. From the thatched roof and oak balusters to the wooden seats and shell-carpeted pit, every effort was made to use Elizabethan materials and methods in constructing the theater. The 20-sided wooden theater opened in 1996. A 1500 member audience can feel free to interact with the actors, just as they did in the 16th century. The first production at the newly reconstructed Globe was Shakespeare’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona, on August 21, 1996 (Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 2000). As in the original Globe, the stage of the new Globe is made of bare boards. It is five feet high, which makes it quite difficult to climb onto or jump from, but it insures that most of the standing audience can see the action.

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