Trivia Time

Globe Theatre Facts
Interesting, important and even little known facts about the Globe theatre.

§ Shakespeare and his company built TWO Globe Theatres!

§ Many Londoners were strict Protestants - Puritans in fact, who abhorred the theatres and many of the people they attracted and in 1596 London's authorities banned the public presentation of plays and all theatres within the city limits of London. All theaters located in the City were forced to move to the South side of the River Thames leading to the building of the first Globe Theatre in 1598.

§ The Globe was built in a similar style to the Coliseum, but on a smaller scale - other Elizabethan Theatres followed this style of architecture - they were called amphitheatres.

§ A crest displaying Hercules bearing the globe on his shoulders together with the motto "Totus mundus agit histrionem" ( the whole world is a playhouse ) was displayed above the main entrance of the Globe Theater. This phrase was slightly re-worded in the William Shakespeare play As You Like It - "All the world’s a stage" which was performed at the Globe Theater.

§ The Globe Theater had a 1500 plus audience capacity. Up to 3000 people would flock to the theatre and its grounds

§ There was no heating in the Globe theatre. Plays were performed in the summer months and transferred to the indoor playhouses during the winter.

§ Advertising - Flags were erected on the day of the performance which sometimes displayed a picture advertising the next play to be performed. Colour coding was used to advertise the type of play to be performed - a black flag meant a tragedy , white a comedy and red a history.

§ Elizabethan theatres were also used for bear baiting, gambling and for immoral purposes

§ At the start of the play after collecting money from the audience the admission collectors put the boxes in a room backstage - the box office

§ During the height of the summer the groundlings were also referred to as ' stinkards ' for obvious reasons

§ In Shakespeare’s time copyright did not exist! Rival theater companies would send their members to attend plays to produce unauthorised copies of plays - notes were made and copied as quickly as possible.

§ Special effects at the Globe were also a spectacular addition at the theater allowing for smoke effects, the firing of a real canon, fireworks (for dramatic battle scenes) and spectacular 'flying' entrances from the rigging in the 'heavens'.

§ In just two weeks Elizabethan theaters could often present “eleven performances of ten different plays”.

§ There were no actresses. Female characters had to be played by young boys. The acting profession was not a credible one and it was unthinkable that any woman would appear in a play.

§ Many of the boy actors died of poisoning due to the vast quantities of lead in their make-up

§ Shakespeare's first biographer, Nicholas Rowe, referred to a role performed by William Shakespeare at the Globe theatre as "the Ghost in his own Hamlet" in which he was was "the top of his performance".

§ Fire at the Globe Theatre broke out in June 29 1613.

§ The second Globe Theatre was built shortly after in 1614.

§ The Puritans ended the Globe Theatre. In 1642 the Puritan Parliament issued an ordinance suppressing all stage plays. The Puritans demolish the Globe Theatre in 1644.

§ The site of the old Globe theatre was rediscovered in the 20th century and a reconstruction of a New Globe Theatre has been built near the spot.