acoustics, acting, actors, audience, ceremonies, curtain, english theatre, globe theatre, hamlet, julius caesar, king lear, london, macbeth, othello, plays, playwright, plot, set design, stage, structure, tragedy, upper stage, verses, william shakespeare
The Globe Theatre was the most important theatre in London, in the period between 1599 and 1613. In those years, William Shakespeare was at the peak of his career, and his plays were often performed in the Globe. As a matter of fact, the theatre’s inauguration consisted in the performance of one of Shakespeare’s tragedies, Julius Caesar. In the following years, other plays were performed in the theatre, amongst which King Lear, Hamlet, Macbeth and Othello.
As you can see in the image above, the structure of the Globe is more or less circular, so it allows the audience sitting on three sides of the theatre to have a good view of what happens on stage. For this reason, the audience feels like a part of the play itself, and it also feels more engaged by the plot.
This structures, that allows the audience to embrace the stage and the actors, is a typical English theatre structure, and it’s very different from the Italian theatres’ structures. As a matter of fact, Italian theatres only allow a frontal view of the scene, while the English stage is almost surrounded by the spectators.
The plays were staged during the afternoon, as the theatre didn’t have artificial illumination, and there was no set design: as a matter of fact, only a few objects could be used on stage, and only if they were important objects for the plot.
The reason for this, is that the most important and powerful tool for the actors and the playwrights in that period was the word: the verses the actors said were what really mattered and what delivered emotions and meanings to the audience. The rest was almost unnecessary. That’s why the Globe has fantastic acoustics, which allow everyone in the theatre to hear perfectly well every single verse.
Another important characteristic of the Globe theatre is the absence of the curtain, and also of any kind of barrier between the stage and the audience. This resulted in what can be described as a union between the actors and the spectators.
The stage was square-shaped, and each side of it measured about 12 meters. The sound of a trumpet used to let the audience know when the show was about to start. There is also an upper stage, but the action scenes, such as the fights and the ceremonies etc, were always performed on the main stage. The sky above the theatre also provided the plays with a special atmosphere.
Even today, the Globe is an important symbol of London, especially of its Elizabethan Era. It is also a way to understand more about Shakespeare and his career: some his plays were thought specifically on the setting of the Globe, and this theatre gives a special insight on one of the most fascinating and mysterious artists of England.