William Shakespeare was one of the most important playwrights in England. He wrote both tragedies, such as “Romeo and Juliet”, “Hamlet” and “Macbeth”; but also comedies, for example “The Merchant of Venice” and “Much Ado About Nothing”. He married Anne Hathaway and the couple had three children. He lived in London where he joined a company of actors called the Lord Chamberlain’s Company with whom he financed the construction of the Globe Theatre. Shakespeare is also the most mysterious writers of all times; because his plays are full of information about music, plants, birds and ancient history but Shakespeare never travelled abroad. In addition, many of his plays are set in Italy, for example “Romeo and Juliet”. All these details have led many critics and experts to wonder how he had the ability to write so well and to know all the things he wrote of. In the 1700s many critics started to suspect that somebody else was the author of Shakespeare’s plays and poems. However his works changed the history of theatre and his plays continue to be performed all over the world.
Shakespeare’s Globe theatre opened in 1997 (in London) and it is a faithful reconstruction of the old Globe Theatre, which was destroyed by a fire; modern health and safety regulation mean that the reconstructed Globe needs to have emergency fire exits. The original Globe didn’t have these. The American producer and actor, Sam Wannamaker, wanted to rebuild the Globe Theatre.
Everything is very similar to the original building and no structural steel was used to build the reconstruction, only oak and its shape was circular.
The new building has a larger stage and the staircases are more wide than before, the pit (with over 850 seating and 700 standing) has a concrete surface, and there is a restaurant and a gift shop; the pit had also the cheapest seats and people paid only 1 penny to watch a performance. Performances usually began at two o’clock in the afternoon and lasted for about two hours.
There were three stages:
the outer stage, where most of the action took place;
the inner stage, used for smaller scenes. It was obscured by a curtain;
the upper stage, over the inner stage, used by musicians or to represent a balcony or the walls of a town.
The actors entered through two doors on either side of the curtain or through a trap-door opening on the floor of the outer stage. The stage stretches out into a large circular yard surrounded by three rows of tiered seating; only the stage and seating areas are covered. Plays take place either during the day (using daylight) or in the evening thanks to interior floodlights, but there are no spotlights, microphones or amplification systems. The music is played using instruments typical of Shakespeare’s times. Tragedies and comedies are staged from May to October, whereas during the rest of the year the theatre is used for educational purposes.