Monday, October 8, 2012

In Yo Face! Globe Theater Smackdown.

Shakespeare’s Globe Theater is THE most famous playhouse in the history of the world. It is home to Juliet’s balcony, Oberon’s magical forest, Prospero’s lost island, and Hamlet’s graveyard. It has been the setting of gondolas in Venice where "All that glitters is not gold," and dank Cawdor Castle where "If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well it were done quickly."
It is built of oak and deal and stolen playhouse frames. It burned down once after a cannon misfired in 1613 and rebuilt only to see it torn down again by misguided religious zealots in 1644. It has housed various troops such as the famed Lord Chamberlain’s Men, of which Will was an actor, and later ruled by brothers James and Richard Burbage who owned an honest stake in the theater’s success. Originally, the Globe sat between three other theaters, most notably the Blackfriars and the Rose.
One of my favorite facts about the Globe, and one I love telling students, is that the theater sits across the Thames River directly within ear shot of St. Paul’s Cathedral and down the stream from the great London Bridge and the jail house there.
That means… that the Globe did not sit within the jurisdiction of London… so… anything goes!
Londoners, both noble and commoner wanting a good time…oh yes, and who isn’t one of those? Would walk across the Blackfriars Bridge to this naughty part of town for wild activities such as “Bear-Baiting” and “Deer Slaughtering” as well as drunken carousing and whoring.
But mostly, they came to “hear” a play. That’s the thing… if you watch a play in the Globe now… people mill about while the actors are on stage… they leave, go get a drink, look around up into the expensive seats to see what people are doing, they carry on conversations… but all the while, although they are not WATCHING the play… they are LISTENING!
Also, to announce a play, theaters would hoist flags in the air to let people know a show was about to start. For the Globe, the flag was Hercules carrying the world on his shoulders… (and if you read this blog… which you should… you’d know that Hercules lofted the earth on his shoulders while Atlas stole three golden apples out of a garden… then mighty Herc tricked him to take the world back)
Somedays you just wake up knowing you're going to have an awesome day.  Standing here in the rain amid the groundlings at the Globe was so much fun.  In fact, I'm still smiling.  Remember the the Globe’s Motto: “Totus Mundus Agit Histrionem” (All the World’s a Stage). Very True, Indeed.

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