The theatre is a type
of art, which was born from communication with the gods, rituals for various
cults and to entertain people in their free time. Theatre was also the place
where people got a political and social education, it was also used as a place
of civic and philosophical debates and had functioned as a spiritual
purification. They have been designed as temples of art and they were seeking
to remove their audience from everyday concerns and to send them in some virtual
reality but the function of the theatre since the early beginnings is to
entertain people. Theatre brings stories and performances to amuse the public and with stories it brings
pleasure. This makes it an important part of life for some people and for theatre
to complete its purpose, it needs space. Theatres have been located everywhere,
from the most elegant residential areas to working-class neighborhoods so it is
available for everyone. Normally nowadays
we imagine theatre as a building that has a architectural space designed for
performances , but in medieval times there are examples where theatres existed
as an important part of urban life and they didn’t have any specific
architectural elements devoted for its use. In 1597 Cuthbert Burbage had
inherited a theatre in London which was the first of its type but it was just
called The Theatre. Using this building as a base and adding some materials in
the theater it became the most impressive theatre which was built in 1597-1598.
This theatre is also called as The Shakespeare globe theatre, because it was a
place where Shakespeare staged most of his greatest plays. Plays in the globe
theatre usually started at three o’clock. There were three types of flags which
were hang on the flag mast and used to indicate what type of play was to be
played. Red was for history , white for comedy and the black flag would
indicate that tragedy it was a day for tragedy usually that play would include
death scenes. The first Folio was published in 1623 and was a collection of 36
plays by Shakespeare. None of his plays were published when he was alive but
written plays by Shakespeare were performed at the globe theatre. A tourist
called Thomas Platter said in his diary that he had witnessed an amazing
performance on Julius Cesar, which was performed by 15 actors. Also many
notable plays were performed during 1600-1613 starting with hamlet and ending
with Henry VIII. Also a lost play of Shakespeare called Cardenio should have
been played in 1612. This period was very harsh for people in Britain and death
was a part of everyday life . People were searching for relief from this reality
and found it in the theatre and Elizabeth was one of those people. She attended many
plays and other forms of entertainment so theatre became a vital part of Elizabethan
culture. The audience wanted more and more plays and shakespear started to
write more smooth and entertaining plays that time. The plays were unlike today,
because there were no backdrops, acoustics were bad and actors had to shout
their lines so everyone could hear them. Because of this viewer’s and their
imagination were more involved in plays and spectators where other interesting
aspect. The theatre could find room for 3 thousand people so It was open for
everyone. People of all status came in this theatre, but mostly it were poor
people. They paid 1 Penny and could stand in the yard, but wealthier people
payed 2-3 pennys for seats. There were also 3 circular galleries and they were
the most comfortable and showed the status of a person and the price was about
5-6 pennys. Because it was almost always full with people it caused some
problems, for example people didn’t bath in Elizabethan times and diseases could
be spread easily in this circumstances so tuberculosis and other diseases have
killed a big amount of people.
Globe was almost always filled to its capacity that it was impossible to move
when you were inside. In Elizabethan times, people were known not to bathe
frequently. Disease was also a major problem the theatres faced. Scarlet fever,
tuberculosis and other contagious disease were regularly killing thousands of
people in the Elizabethan time period.
theatre was very different than one might expect.
Most of the
audience were seating very close to each other the stench was quite horrendous
that’s why all the Holes in the roof over the stage were designed to let more
wind in. Without an overhead roof, such a view was exposed, but with the stage
set at eye level some 5 feet off the ground, you got the closest view in the
general occurred in the early afternoon and they were lasting from 2 pm until
approximately 4 or 5 pm because there was no artificial lighting.
behaviour were very bizarre in theatre and they reacted in different ways as
for example throughout plays, audiences ate, drank, spat, argued, booed,
fought, and even threw fruit at the actors. So I can conclude with
confidence that between the spectators and the actor didn’t exist that
“fourth wall “(i.e. the performance).
express in visible form with the consent or not their consent. All these
gestures and behaviour reflected a lack of culture that the population had in
the Middle Ages
Was the design
in the way it was because of the kind of people that were going in there??
people didn’t pretend much for the theatre apart of getting entertained,
because indeed the theatre was a centre of display and of pleasure
The burn and
the rebuild of the globe theatre
In 1613, an
immense tragedy happened during a performance of Henry VIII. The thatched roof
caught on fire very quickly and burned to the ground. The spectators escaped
safely, with some exception of one man who was badly burned.
Elizabethan times fire was e real problem because almost every building was
constructed by wood and thatch. Oil lamps or candles were used for light and
usually they caused lot of accidents. Also The draperies and thatched roofs
were very dry and burned like very fast, which was the case in The Globe
Theatre. Fire extinguishers or fire departments were a actual difficulty at the
time, so the normal practice was to get leather fire buckets, fill them with
water, and dump them on the blaze. In 1614 anew Globe Theatre was rebuilt
shortly before Shakespeare’s death (referred to as Globe 2).
This time, the
construction of the new globe was different. It had a tile roof and most
importantly, fire exits. It never stood up to the figure of the original Globe,
but remained as a memory of William Shakespeare and his theatre.
In 1642, under
a violent actions used by the puritan, British parliaments ordered to stop all
the theatrical plays. The Puritans were a religious group and the term came
into general usage at the end of the reign of Queen Mary I (Bloody Mary).
Puritans meant ‘those who wanted to completely change the Church of England,
with its Roman Catholic type of structure and traditions, for another reformed
and plain church model’. This was a strict religious mentality which increased
in many activities in England and developed superficial behaviour by moving to
a stricter cod.
In 1644 the
Puritans demolished the globe theatre.
architecture of its own.
medieval period the organization of the theatre was influenced by the Classic
Greek and Roman architecture.
architecture of the famous playhouse was based on the great structures of
classic Antiquity with a very similar composition to an amphitheatre. This
design had to be a combination of practical, economic and aesthetic
Greek and Roman architecture was admired by Elizabeth and you could really see
the influence in the great columns framed in the entrances of the Elizabethan
houses. The Globe Theatre was framed with massive upright, vertical timbers,
which they were supported by diagonal timbers. The wattle walls were daubed
with mortar and whitewash was then applied. This process resulted in very
typical style of black and white half of the Elizabethan era. With wood
architecture two great columns were included in the architecture of the
Elizabethan theatres which were called ‘Herculean’ columns or pillars. These
columns were painted to resemble marble.
Built to the
engineering standards of 1599, the structure of the famous globe theatre was
like a large circular amphitheatre, three stories high. The circular structure
was covered by a small hatched roof and it gave the globe theatre an appearance
of an ancient Greek auditorium where the centre was uncovered. The main stage
that was located in the center of the theatre, pushed up next to the interior
side, was extended by 5 feet high. At the back of this were the changing rooms
for all the actors and for them to get back into the stage, they would come out
from the two side doors at the stage level. Above this stage was a balcony,
flanked by two further balconies serving as playhouse boxes. On the third level
there was a small structure supported by columns, were all the announcements
were made and the playhouse’s flag would often fly, advertising plays there
were currently being performed.
Greek auditorium three rows of seating that formed circular bands by wrapping
around the interior spaces of the playhouse. These galleries cost more, but
they offered a better comfort of seating. Those that were out in the open
courtyard had to stand in the rain or shine through what could be a three hour
All seats were
of approximately equal importance, they have been cited as a model of
democratic seating and the stage was provided with multiple perspectives to
make each of the spectators feel as important as a prince.