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5 things you didn’t know about Shakespeare’s Globe Theater

5 things you didn’t know about Shakespeare’s Globe Theater

Here’s a look at five interesting facts about Shakespeare’s Globe in London, one of the world’s most famous and fascinating theaters.

Here’s a look at five interesting facts about Shakespeare’s Globe in London, one of the world’s most famous and fascinating theaters.

Totus mundus agit histrionem, (All the world’s a stage) was the motto sewn into the flag that flew proudly above London’s Globe theater, which was founded by William Shakespeare. We are all performers on the stage of life, so–in a sense–Shakespeare’s theater symbolized the world. Tragic, amusing and exciting happenings elicit a multitude of emotions from us all as we pass through life, yet the stage and actors are the heart of the theater. Here’s a look at five interesting things about Shakespeare’s Globe theatre in London.

1. It’s not the real Globe

Shakespeare’s Globe, which is just footsteps from Tate Modern, is not the original structure from 1599, but a reconstruction from the 1990s. In 1613, a terrible fire destroyed the theater where the Bard first staged Hamlet. Made entirely of oak and straw, the theater was illuminated by torches that–needless to say–were hazardous to the wood surroundings.  The theater was finally rebuilt in 1997 in what was believed to be the spot where the original theater once stood.  However, in 2009 archaeologists in Shoreditch–the emerging East London neighborhood far from Bankside and Tate–uncovered an original Globe theater wall built by Lord Chamberlain’s Men, Shakespeare’s acting company.

2. Shakespeare is honored in an original way each year

Sam Wanamaker is not only known for playing Rockford in the 1978 film Death on the Nile, but also for having rebuilt the Globe theater. It’s thanks to him that we can still enjoy shows as they would have been performed in Shakespeare’s day.  Wanamaker passed away before the reconstruction was complete, but he requested that an all-male cast perform at least one Shakespeare work per year in honor of the Bard’s memory. When the Globe first reopened, was The Two Gentlemen of Verona, was the first of these performances. Antony and Cleopatra and Twelfth Night were also performed as such in 1999 and 2013 respectively.

#samwanamaker bronze bust

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3. Women did not perform on the Globe’s stage until the seventeenth century  

Remember Shakespeare in Love? The film that, despite its historical inaccuracies, dominated the 1999 award season by taking home six Oscars and two Golden Globes? The film portrays a love story between a charming William Shakespeare at the start of his career (Joseph Fiennes) and  Lady Viola, a young highborn who dreams of being an actress (Gwyneth Paltrow). When Lady Viola auditioned for Shakespeare, she disguised herself in men’s clothing… complete with a false mustache. Her problem was not only that her affluent family would never approve of her joining a theater company, but also that she was a woman. In Shakespeare’s time, it was considered gauche for women to appear on the stage so men always played the female roles. It is said, however, that–like Lady Viola–several women in disguise did indeed perform on the Elizabethan stage.

4. The ticket prices won’t burn a hole in your wallet 

Every evening, thousands of curtains rise to reveal stages all around London. From musicals to prose to ballet and more, there is a performance for every taste and budget. Tickets for a West End musical start at approximately £30, and tickets for the Globe theater, however, begin at a much more economical £5. In its Elizabethan heyday, a floor ticket for the Globe cost one penny while a seat in the indoor galleries cost two pence. All things considered, like inflation, today’s prices are not too shabby at all.

3 plays in two days? Lol, I rhymed.

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5. The Globe has an Italian twin

The Globe theater is an emblem of London, however, Italy is also home to a Globe…in Rome to be precise. Founded by beloved actor Gigi Proietti, the Silvano Toti Globe Theatre is located in the gardens at Villa Borghese.The theater pays homage to the Bard with a program dedicated entirely to his works. On the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, Gigi Proietti himself performed Edmund Kean, a play whose titular character was a prominent English nineteenth-century actor. The work examines the profound meaning of the words of the father of English theater.

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