The Globe was built by Shakespeare’s acting company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, in 1599 from the timbers of London’s very first permanent theater, Burbage’s Theater, built in 1576. Before James Burbage built his theater, plays and dramatic performances were ad hoc affairs, performed on street corners and in the yards of inns. However, the Common Council of London, in 1574, started licensing theatrical pieces performed in inn yards within the city limits. To escape the restriction, actor James Burbage built his own theater on land he leased outside the city limits. When Burbage’s lease ran out, the Lord Chamberlain’s men moved the timbers to a new location and created the Globe.
The Globe Theatre, where most of Shakespeare’s plays debuted, burned down on June 29, 1613.
Producer: Shakespeare’s Globe performance archive
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre is a ‘best guess’ reconstruction based on modern scholarship of the 1599 theater of the same name that William Shakespeare part owned, wrote for and played in. The new theater stands not far from the original Globe on London’s Southbank. The performance archive shows how productions at the reconstructed Globe and Sam Wanamaker Playhouse were conceived, rehearsed, dressed, marketed, sound tracked, how props were used, how the audiences behaved and the theater history and performance lessons that were observed and learned. The architectural archive contains material on how the reconstruction of the theater was designed and planned and some of the conversations and debates that informed construction decisions.
The Globe, which opened in 1997, is a reconstruction of an open-air theatre designed in 1599. The season normally runs from May to October and sometimes over the Christmas period. Tours of the theatre and an exhibition is also available.
The Shakespeare’s Globe is also home to a second theatre – it has named its new 340 seat Indoor Jacobean Theatre The Sam Wanamaker Theatre, named after the organisation’s founder, American actor and director Sam Wanamaker. Performances have been held inside the theatre since January 2014, and allow Shakespeare’s Globe to present plays throughout the year. The theatre has two tiers of galleried seating and a pit seating area and is predominantly lit by candles.
Renowned worldwide for the iconic reconstruction of the original Globe Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe celebrates William Shakespeare through the power of performance to make his work accessible to all. From architectural plans to costume designs, prompt books and programmes, the digitised archive of Shakespeare’s Globe offers researchers a comprehensive insight into performance practice in this unique theatre space.
Explore two decades of pioneering theatrical experiment from the archives of Shakespeare’s Globe.