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Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, which officially opened in 1997, is a reconstruction of the Globe Theatremarker, an Elizabethan playhouse in the London Borough of Southwarkmarker, on the south bank of the River Thames. It is approximately from the site of the original theatre. Jack Shepherd's 'Prologue Production' of The Two Gentlemen of Verona starring Mark Rylance as Proteus, opened the Globe to the theatregoing public in August 1996, a year before the formal opening Gala.

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 June 29, 1613. The fire was caused by a accident with a cannon during a production of Henry VIII. 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 .


In 1970 American actor and director Sam Wanamaker, founded the Shakespeare Globe Trust, and International Shakespeare Globe Centre with the objective of building a faithful recreation of Shakespeare’s Globe close to its original Bankside, Southwark location. While many had said that the Globe reconstruction was impossible to achieve, he persevered for over twenty years, and eventually a new Globe theatre was built according to a design based on the research of historical advisor John Orrell.The rest of the design team comprised Theo Crosby of Pentagram as the architect, Buro Happold as structural and services engineers and Boyden & Co as quantity surveyors. The construction was undertaken by McCurdy & Co.

The theatre opened in 1997 under the name "Shakespeare's Globe Theatre" and now stages plays every summer. Mark Rylance was appointed as the first artistic director in 1995 and was succeeded by Dominic Dromgoole In 2006.

The new theatre on Banksidemarker is approximately from the original site, centre to centre, and was the first thatched roof building permitted in London since the Great Fire of Londonmarker in 1666.

As in the original Globe, the theatre has a thrust stage that projects into a large circular yard surrounded by three tiers of steeply raked seating.
The only covered parts of the amphitheatre are the stage and the (more expensive) seated areas. Plays are staged during the summer, usually between May and the first week of October, and in the winter the theatre is used for educational purposes. Tours are available all year round.

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 original Globe Theatre as final plans were being made for the site and structure. Performances are staged in a manner which is as close as possible to the original environment. There are no spotlights - the plays are staged during daylight hours and in the evenings (with the help of interior floodlights). There is no amplification - no microphones or speakers - the actors must project their natural voices into the theatre. All music is performed live on period instruments. The actors can see the audience, and the audience can see each other, adding to the feeling of shared experience and community event.

The building itself is constructed entirely of English oak - with mortise and tenon joinery. There is no structural steel anywhere. It is, in this sense, an "authentic" 16th century timber-framed building. The seats are simple benches (though cushions can be hired for performances) and the Globe has the first and only thatched roof in London since the Great Fire of 1666. The modern thatch is well protected by fire retardants, and sprinklers on the roof ensure further protection against fire. The "authentic" theatre is joined with a modern lobby, restaurant, gift shop and visitors' centre for the public and has extensive backstage support areas for the actors and musicians. Seating capacity is 857 with an additional 700 "groundlings" standing in the pit, 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 and in the virtual world:

  • Replica of similar Elizabethan theatre:
    • Waseda University Tsubouchi Shoyo Memorial Library Theatre (a replica of The Fortune Theatremarker), built early 1900s


  1. Nagler 1958, p. 8.
  2. McCurdy & Co website
  3. Information about the Globe.
  4. Measured using Google Earth
  5. Staff. Globe Theatre Encarta. Accessed 29 June 2008
  6. 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 and adding another 20 for the "Gentlemen's Rooms" ( )
  7. The Old Globe, San Diego.
  8. Further Replicas .
  9. www.Broadway.TV article "Broadway To Get New Globe?"
  10. Italy gets Globe Theatre replica.
  11. The Globe Theatre in Prague - More Information about the Disaster.


  • Carson, Christie and Karim Cooper, Farah (Sept 2008) Shakespeare's Globe, A Theatrical Experiment, Cambridge University Press, UK, ISBN 9780521701662

External links


  • Carson and Karim-Cooper 'Shakespeare's Globe: A theatrical Experiement' 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.

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