The Globe Theatre

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The Globe Theatre
The Globe theatre was open to audiences in the summer and the performances took place by daylight; the King's company usually began to play in the month of May. Days out at the Globe Theatre would have been an exciting event. The grounds surrounding the Globe Theater would have been bustling with people. There would be Stalls selling merchandise and refreshments creating a market day atmosphere. Non playgoers would flock to the Globe Theater to go to the market stalls and 'soak in ' the holiday-like atmosphere.

  • Globe Audience Capacity - the Globe theatre could hold 1500 people in the audience and this number expanded to 3000 with the people who crowded outside the theatres

  • Royalty - Queen Elizabeth I loved watching plays but these were generally performed in indoor playhouses for her pleasure. She would not have attended the plays performed at the amphitheatres such as the Globe

  • The Nobles - Upper Class Nobles would have paid for the better seats in the Lord's rooms paying 5d for the privilege

  • The Lower Classes, the Commoners, were called the Groundlings or Stinkards, and  would have stood in the theatre pit and paid 1d entrance fee. They put 1 penny in a box at the theatre entrance - hence the term 'Box Office'

The Globe Theatre audiences

The 'groundlings' would pay 1 penny to stand in the 'Yard' of the Globe Theatre. The

gentry would pay to sit in the galleries often using cushions for comfort! Rich nobles could watch the play from a chair set on the side of the Globe stage itself. Theatre performances were held in the afternoon, because, of course, there was limited artificial lighting. Men and women attended plays, but often the prosperous women would wear a mask to disguise their identity. The plays were extremely popular and attracted vast audiences to the Globe - the audience capacity was over 1500 people and this amount increased to 3000 when people mingling outside the grounds. In 1599, Thomas Platter noted the cost of admission in his diary:

"There are separate galleries and there one stands more comfortably and moreover can sit, but one pays more for it. Thus anyone who remains on the level standing pays only one English penny: but if he wants to sit, he is let in at a farther door, and there he gives another penny. If he desires to sit on a cushion in the most comfortable place of all, where he not only sees everything well, but can also be seen then he gives yet another English penny at another door. And in the pauses of the comedy food and drink are carried round amongst the people and one can thus refresh himself at his own cost"

The Life of Globe Theatre Actors
The reputation of the early Elizabethan Actors was not good and any were viewed as no better than rogues and vagabonds - actors were not trusted. The standing of Elizabethan Actors improved when the purpose-built theatres were introduced and some of the Globe Thatre actors became the equivalent of today's superstars.
The Skills of Globe Theatre Actors
William Shakespearean and the other Globe Theatre actors were expected to perform their own stunts. Their skills would include sword fighting skills and they had to be able to fall convincingly. The voices of the actors had to carry well. To ensure that the plot was being communicated to the audience the actors had to 'over-act', making exaggerated gestures with their arms and hands. Their skills also had to include a good memory - there was a fast turnover of plays and this skill was a great asset for an actor although not an essential one...
Rehearsals at the Globe Theatre Actors - 'cue acting' and 'cue scripting'
The Globe Theatre was known to produce “eleven performances of ten different plays” in just two weeks. It was essential to beat the competition for attracting vast audiences and this was achieved by an extremely rapid turnover of plays. Rehearsal time was therefore limited. On many occasions the Globe Theatre Actors only got their lines as the play was actually in progress. Parts were often only allocated on the day of the performance. Sometimes the actors didn't even get any lines. Working with a method called "cue acting " which meant that there was a person backstage who whispered the lines to the actor just before he was going to say them. This rapid turnover led to another technique called “ cue scripting ”, where where each actor was given only his own lines. The complete scene and content of the play was not explained to the actors until it was actually being performed. These techniques allowed for zero rehearsal time, thus enabling a fast turnover in terms of new productions at the Globe Theatre and a huge portfolio of different roles.

The Income of a Globe Theatre Actors
The salaries of actors varied according to their position in the theatre. The boy actors who took the female roles were paid the least of all actors. The Admiral’s Men paid boy players three shillings a week. The boys were apprenticed to adult actors and their wages were paid to their masters who gave them board and lodging and a small allowance in return. Part players were paid a daily wage of approximately one shilling per day. The main players were paid at least two shillings per day. However, many of the major Elizabethan Actors such as William Shakespeare became stake holders in the theatres, such as the Globe Theatre, and the profits made them very wealthy men.

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