Pertinent Facts About the Play and Its Performance
The Globe Theatre of 1599 was located in Southwark, and so out of the jurisdiction of inner-city London, which did not look kindly on play-acting, gambling, prostitution, etc. The theatre was designed as an outdoor one, with cheap seats, standing room around stage, or galleries that cost much more. It was a non-lighted theatre and certainly a more public one than the later Blackfriars Theatre was. The stage had a roof, but the rest of the theatre was open. The stage platform was about 5 feet high, and did not contain many props or even a curtain, such as modern theatres do.
The Globe is significant to both Shakespeare studies and the Elizabethan stage in general because it was the most public theatre that Shakespeare wrote plays for, and the plays he wrote for this theatre vary from those he wrote for the more private, elite audiences of Blackfriars theatre. Because of its size and many cheap “seats” or standing room, it allowed many people to see Shakespeare’s plays, increasing their popularity.
As mentioned earlier, stage props were used sparingly during Shakespeare’s time, but certainly more so than was scenery. The staging of Shakespeare’s plays was emblematic. Costumes were used extensively. Scenery was practically non-existent. This is significant because it meant that the bulk of “pretending reality” rested on the emblematic aspects of a play’s staging as well as the language of the play, not the “scenery,” to be realistic.
The Lord Chamberlain’s Company was founded by the Lord Chamberlain and his son-in-law, the Queen’s officer in charge of licensing playing companies. Shakespeare joined this company around 1594. Because of a ban on plays being performed anywhere but specially-built, official playhouses, the company, one of two important ones 9the other being the Lord Admiral’s Men), performed in the Theatre, in Shoreditch. This is significant to Shakespeare studies because it helps one understand the play better if he or she understands its intended audience.