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18th century drama!

all you need to know about theatres!
Did you say actresses and actors? I thought so!

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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 apartments.

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.


I hope you all now have a better understanding of theatre today and in the 18th century! Thanks for visiting my site!

SOURCES for my whole web page:

Wilson, Edwin & Goldfarb, Alvin (2002). Theater: The Lively
Art. New York, New York: McGraw-Hill

Oser, Zachary T (n.d.). Building A Piece of History: The
Story of The New Globe Theatre. Retrieved March 20,
2005 from Illinois State University, Web site: