Can you imagine not being able to see your favorite play? Well during the Commonwealth (1642-1660), theatrical activity was
banned, the theatre was closed, and performances had to be done in secrecy. Actors were shunned and even had objects thrown
at them! Life was not good for actors during this time period. English theatre was sadly in a state of uncertainty and disarray
when Charles was restored to the throne in 1660. There were many requests for King Charles'II return to the throne. In April
of 1660, Charles was returned to the throne. Everyone thought that upon his return, theatre would be back to normal; there
were massive changes in government and in the power of the church.
Theatrical activity began to increase due to William Davenant (opera producer), and William Beeston. The theatre was
restored when the king returned.
Once the king returned, performances were done in buildings, outdoor fairs, concert halls, and court inns. The theatres
were made from tennis courts, and the stage was placed at one end and the audience either sat at the sides or faced the stage.
Tennis court theatres were very popular at this time, since there was a lack of playhouses anywhere else. Theatre performances
were used to draw audiences there, and sometimes plays were seen up to five times a week.
The original Globe was built in 1598 in London's Bankside district. It was one of four major theatres in the area;the
other three being the Swan, the Rose, and the Hope. It could seat up to 3,000 spectators. The theatre was three stories high.
The rectangular stage platform on which the plays were performed was nearly 43 feet wide and 28 feet deep.
There were many complaints from neighbors who resided near the theatre. After a successful petition to the city the company
took matters into their own hands. They returned to The Theatre, stripped it to the foundation, moved the materials across
the Thames to Bankside, and proceeded to construct the Globe. They relocated the WHOLE theatre.
In 1613, the original Globe Theatre burned to the ground. The cause of the fire has been placed on a cannon shot during
a performance of Henry VIII that ignited the roof of the gallery. Construction began again on the original foundation, and
a new Globe was completed before Shakespeare's death. The new Globe continued operating as a theatre until 1642, when it
was closed down by the Puritans (as were all the theatres and any place). In 1644, the Globe was destroyed in order to build
In 1993, Sam Wanamaker began of construction on a new Globe theatre near the site of the original. This latest Globe
Theatre was completed in 1996, and was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II in May of 1997 with a production of Henry V.
The Globe is a close reproduction to the Elizabethan model, and seats 1,500 people between the galleries and the "groundlings."
In its initial 1997 season, the theatre attracted 210,000 patrons.
Drury theatres contained a pit filed with benches and covered with a green cloth. The pit was for young wits. Upper galleries,
only two tiny rows, were reserved for ordinary people. Boxes were saved for the wealthier townspeople and aristocrats. The
front of the stage was called the apron.
The Globe Theatre was decades before the restoration period, but was a big time factor in performances of that time.