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4/23/2008

Around the Globe

The Globe Theatre, that is. The self-same Globe Theatre in which William Shakespeare performed as an actor and in which his plays were first performed. Or, at least, as close to the original as is possible to get, given an occasional nod to modern safety concerns. For example, that structure you see jutting out from the circular shape of the building is a staircase. For access to the upper levels of the theatre. In the original, there was but one. In this, the modern reconstruction, there are two. For safety's sake.



That is a thatched roof. It is the only thatched roof building in London, and special exemptions to existing laws about such things (London burned to the ground a few hundred years ago and thatched roofs were outlawed in the city, subsequently) were granted in order to allow the building to be built. By Sam Wanamaker, the American actor and director. And friends. Anyway, there is a sprinkler system in the thatching - also a concession to modern safety concerns. The walls are plastered using the same technique developed in medieval times, using lime and animal hair and all kinds of other stuff, the theory being, since the medieval stuff doesn't crack (there are buildings from the 15th and 16th century in England with ORIGINAL EXTERIOR plastering) why not do it the way they did.

We attended an hour and a half workshop at the Globe. Conducted by the actor you see facing the crowd in the next picture. He has the hat.



In this workshop, we learned some interesting and, frankly, amazing things.

Notice, please, the shape of the stage.



There is no procenium. It is almost, in fact, theater in the round. But there is no scenery, no wings right and left and no footlighting. No lighting of any sort, in fact. As it is understood now, in Shakespeare's time, plays were given during the day - they think 3 o'clock in the afternoon. No one really knows, for sure. But given that they had no electricity and no reliable form of artificial lighting that wouldn't burn the place down, that's the current thinking.

Think of the word 'audience'. The roots of the word mean 'to hear'. Not see. Hear. In Willy's time, you didn't go to 'see' a play, there was almost nothing to 'see'. There were no sets. There was little staging. Actors came on the stage, said their lines, and left. You went to 'hear' a play. And it was 'play'. What went on in Willy's time was roughly equivalent to a Rap session. Shakespeare wrote much of his work in iambic pentameter. The stuff of poetry. The 'rap' of its day.

All of the actors were men. Women were not allowed on the stage. So women's parts were portrayed by young boys and men. Dressed as women. None of Shakespeare's plays call for kissing. If men were to kiss, on stage, the Puritans, who were 'in charge' in England at the time, would have run them out of town - at least. So Willy was forced to WRITE the passion into the script, because that passion could not be portrayed, physically, on the stage. And he became the greatest writer in the English language - because men could not and would not kiss on the stage.



The 'cheap seats' were on the ground floor. It cost the equivalent of a weeks' wages to stand and hear a play, for some. A bargain at twice the price.

15 comments:

Hyphen Mama said...

Is the roof covered in glass, or just wide open? And a million other questions running through my head.

LceeL said...

hyphen mama: The roof is open to the sky.

storyteller said...

Wow! What a nifty ‘photo tour’ of this old theater from the comfort of our own homes. I also enjoyed your previous post. I visited both decades ago and reading about/seeing your pictures bring back mem’ries! Thanks for sharing your experiences with us … and for visiting my T-13 today ;--)
Hugs and blessings,

Julie said...

Very interesting. Lime and animal hair and stuff in the walls.

(Re: yesterday's post and the 6 months from marriage to baby...my great great grandmother was the daughter of a widow and a bachelor farmer's son -- two generations of bastardy there...)

I am really fascinated by the shot of the organ (get your mind out of the gutter, Lou...) in Oxford. Something about it looks rather unreal. I love the angles and arches and juxtapositions of the ceilings of some of the cathedrals in Europe.

These England posts are very interesting! Thanks!

Velvet Verbosity said...

Wait a second. Didn't Romeo and Juliet kiss? At least when Juliet wakes up and sees Romeo dead and tries to get poison from his lips?

LceeL said...

Storyteller: You're Welcome. Anytime.

Julie: I am truly, truly glad you enjoy them.

Velvet Verbosity: At one point there is a discussion between Romeo and Juliet about the ‘holy palmer’s kiss’ which compares lips to palms. Perhaps this is what they did in Willy's time.

Hyphen Mama said...

Ok. I'm back. Kids are in bed, and I can think straight. I tried to look up percinium--because I really don't know what that is. Well, dictionary.com can only find perineum and although that is LAUGH OUT LOUD funny, I'm guessing that's now what was intended. "There is no perineum". Well, of course there isn't. Can you indulge me and tell me what pericinium is? *snicker*

Hyphen Mama said...

OH! And how did I forget Tuscany? OF COURSE you'll have to go to Tuscany. No trip to Italy would be complete without a few weeks in Tuscany.

LceeL said...

hyphen mama: Of course I make a boo boo. It's spelled procenium. It's the arch that frames the stage.

Sandy C. said...

Fascinating! That must have been amazing to learn and see all of this. I can't imagine being on stage without wings! That means no peeking onto the stage during a performance :(

LceeL said...

Sandy: It was amazing. There is a backstage area - behind the stage. Thus the name 'backstage'.

Hyphen Mama said...

thank you!

Rebecca said...

That's really neat! I don't think I've ever seen such interesting pictures of the theater (or theatre).

Elizabeth said...

"For access to the upper levels of the theatre. In the original, there was but one. In this, the modern reconstruction, there are two. For safety's sake."

Safety is overrated. ;)

Nicole said...

Ive never even heard of this place.
WOW - it's beautiful!
I love the wooden structure!