In This Article Globe Theatre

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Origins
  • Playing Companies

British and Irish Literature Globe Theatre
by
Michael Hattaway
  • LAST REVIEWED: 15 June 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 August 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846719-0086

Introduction

The Globe was a purpose-built playhouse, built for a new company of players, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, which William Shakespeare had joined as a “sharer” (shareholder) in 1594. Before that he had worked as an actor and playwright with other groups, notably Strange’s Men, based at the Rose, owned and managed by Philip Henslowe. At first the Chamberlain’s Men had worked at the playhouse that was called the Theater in Shoreditch, and at the nearby Curtain from 1597. Late in 1598 the Theater was demolished and its beams were transported south of the river to Southwark to be used in a new playhouse, the Globe, which opened in 1599. In 1613 the Globe was destroyed by fire, which apparently started during a performance of Shakespeare and John Fletcher’s Henry VIII. A new playhouse, the “second Globe,” was immediately erected on the foundations of the first. The theater was closed, along with all other playhouses, in 1642. A replica of the second Globe, now named “Shakespeare’s Globe,” was erected on the south bank of the Thames, a couple of hundred meters from the original site, and opened in 1997. That site will include a replica of an early-17th-century indoor or “private” playhouse.

General Overviews

The three magisterial surveys and analyses of evidence regarding early British playhouses, Greg 1931, Chambers 1923, and Bentley 1941–1968 (the latter two of which cover documentary evidence pertaining to the earlier and later halves of Shakespeare’s career), are now complemented by recent work that examines material evidence of playhouse construction as well as offering fresh accounts of conventions for theatrical representation. These three studies are revised and supplemented in Wickham, et al. 2000, and by detailed accounts of the playhouses and composition of playing companies (see Gurr 2009). Kinney 2003 and Dutton 2011 offer convenient and succinct handbooks, and the ongoing Records of Early English Drama gathers records from all over the country that enable the tours of the London playing companies to be plotted—along with much else beside.

  • Bentley, Gerald Eades. The Jacobean and Caroline Stage. 7 vols. Oxford: Clarendon, 1941–1968.

    E-mail Citation »

    A standard reference book (modeled on Chambers 1923), and a magisterial analysis of material concerning dramatic companies, playhouses and the plays presented in them, and their authors.

  • Chambers, E. K. The Elizabethan Stage. 4 vols. Oxford: Clarendon, 1923.

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    A standard account of court performances, struggles to control the stage, playing companies, players, playhouses, staging, printing of plays, and playwrights. Many of Chambers’s findings have been revised, but the synthesis he provided remains invaluable.

  • Dutton, Richard, ed. The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Theatre. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

    DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199697861.001.0001E-mail Citation »

    International scholars explore the plurality of playing spaces in Renaissance England, the fortunes of playing companies and those that supported them and the patrons who lent their names to them, the opposition of the city authorities, as well as playing styles and material components of the scene. They also review the theories that have shaped conclusions from such evidence as stage directions or visual records.

  • Greg, W. W. Dramatic Documents from the Elizabethan Playhouses: Stage Plots, Actors’ Parts Prompt Books. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon, 1931.

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    Collotype facsimiles along with transcriptions and analyses of essential documents that cast light on performances and performance conditions in Shakespeare’s England until the closing of the playhouses.

  • Gurr, Andrew. The Shakespearean Stage: 1574–1642. 4th ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

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    A standard and concise account of the period’s companies, players, playhouses, staging conventions, and theater audiences. An appendix matches a good selection of plays to the companies that first performed them and to the playhouses where they were first performed, and there is a full bibliography.

  • Kinney, Arthur F. Shakespeare by Stages: An Historical Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell, 2003.

    DOI: 10.1002/9780470775813E-mail Citation »

    An introduction for students to the stages, players, and playgoers of Shakespeare’s London; to the theatrical equipment that was used; and to the reactions generated.

  • Records of Early English Drama. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1979–.

    E-mail Citation »

    An ongoing project that serves “to locate, transcribe, and edit historical surviving documentary evidence of drama, secular music, and other communal entertainment and ceremony from the Middle Ages until 1642, when the Puritans closed the London theatres.” Volumes of this multivolume series are devoted to counties or particular institutions such as London’s Inns of Court.

  • Wickham, Glynne, Herbert Berry, and William Ingram, eds. English Professional Theatre, 1530–1660. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

    E-mail Citation »

    Gathers recently edited documents of control (1530–1660), accounts of players and playing, and then of all the London playhouses, including the first and second Globe.

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