On June 29, 1613, the Globe Theater, one of the most famous theaters in the west, burned down by way of a loose, misdirected canon during a play production of William Shakespeare’s Henry VIII. The famous Globe Theater is an iconic heritage sight of England with a history spanning over 400 years. It’s synonymous with Shakespeare’s work due to him not only being an original shareholder of the theater, but also producing performances of his original plays.
The Globe Theater’s rich history began in 1599 and its construction is credited to Shakespeare and his acting company’s extreme pettiness. Before the construction of the original Globe in 1599, Shakespeare and his acting company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, produced plays for a theater called The Theatre (British spelling of theater). Their landlord, Giles Alleyn, refused to renew the lease for the land that The Theatre was built on.
However, Shakespeare and company found a loophole.
They realized that the terms only spoke to the land that the theater was built on, not the actual theater itself. So while Alleyn was away to celebrate the Christmas celebrations, Shakespeare and the company actors tore The Theatre down piece by piece and walked with the building materials across the Thames. There, they constructed a whole new playhouse from the recycled materials of The Theater. Thus, the infamous Globe Theater was born.
The Globe Theater would stand in its original location until the present day where fans of Early Modern theater can still purchase tickets to attend the Globe’s productions. But before that, the Globe Theater underwent a turbulent history.
Until the fire of 1613, the Globe Theater experienced good fortune in ticket sales due to their famous and influential playwright, Shakespeare. Shakespeare and the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, later the King’s Men, produced popular plays together that attracted crowds and acclaim. The Early Modern Period was a period that experienced the flourishing of art, literature, and most importantly, theater.
Unfortunately on June 29, 1613, the Globe burnt down during one of Shakespeare’s productions of Henry VIII. The reason being a misdirected canon that set the roof on fire. After being rebuilt, the Globe stood for another three decades until 1642 when Puritans set an order suppressing all stage plays and entertainment. It was eventually turned into tenement housing, ending the theater’s rich history.
But in 1970, American actor and director Samuel Wanamaker set out to renovate and reconstruct the Globe Theater. After 27 years of renovation and reconstruction, the Globe Theater reopened in 1997 for the first time in centuries, producing plays from the Early Modern period that you can still see today.
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