William Shakespeare and The Globe Theater

What was the format of Elizabethan theater as it existed at The Globe?

The Globe Theater

At the Globe Theater, most of the audience (the groundlings) stood in the open air, surrounding three sides of the stage. However, if an audience member was willing to pay double the entry fee, he or she could sit under the roof. Those who were willing to pay the most, usually those from the upper class, would be seated either above the stage or on the stage. The crowd was always rowdy bunch, and vendors would walked around the theater, selling food. If a performance failed, the audience was sure to complain.

Due to the nature of the Globe Theater, all entrances and exits by the actors were made through one of three doors. All the lighting for the performances was natural; there were no external lights. In addition, all actors had to provide their own costumes by either purchasing them or finding them in the dressing room. At the Globe, women did not perform in plays; instead, boys would play the role of girls, and men would play the role of women. The actors had to shout their lines, articulate clearly, and use exaggerated theatrical gestures. Additionally, though there were props, there was no scenery.

What role did Shakespeare play in establishing the theater?

William Shakespeare was a shareholder for the Lord Chamberlain's Men. He owned 12.5% of the assets for the Globe. However, as more shares were added, Shakespeare's share diminished throughout his life until he owned only about 7% of the theater's shares.

How has the Globe Theater influenced modern drama?

The Globe Theater brought spectators of all classes together. The jokes and scenes could be enjoyed by anyone. Similarly, today's theater brings various social classes together.

How did Shakespeare's part in the Globe Theater reflect that he was a "man of words"?

The Globe Theater was essentially built for the Lord Chamberlain's Men, a playing company for which William Shakespeare was the chief writer. Thus, the Globe Theater resonated with the beautiful words of Shakespeare almost every time there was a performance. The theater was physical evidence that Shakespeare was a "man of words," for no man would invest in his own theater if he were not confident in his mastery of words, and no Elizabethan theater would thrive without a brilliant playwright behind it.