Opening Night

On June 12, 1997, Queen Elizabeth II re-opened the Globe Theatre in London, following its reconstruction about 230 meters from the original site.

The original Globe was owned by Richard Burbage and his brother, Cuthbert, William Shakespeare, John Heminges, Augustine Phillips, and Thomas Pope. The theatre was built in 1599 using timber from an earlier theatre that was built by the Burbages’ father, James. The new Globe was larger than the old theatre, and probably opened in time for the first production of Henry V. The first performance of record was Jonson’s Every Man Out of His Humour. The Globe survived for 13 years, going up in flames during a performance on Henry the Eighth on June 29, 1613. A theatrical cannon misfired, igniting the wooden beams and thatched roof. Miraculously, nobody was hurt or killed. The theatre was rebuilt the following year.

As was the case with every other theatre in England, the Globe was shut down by the joyless Puritans in 1642, and it was pulled down sometime around 1644 to make room for tenements.

In 1970, American actor and director Sam Wanamaker founded the Shakespeare Globe Trust and International Shakespeare Globe Centre with the goal of building a reconstruction of the Globe Theatre as it was in Shakespeare’s time. Despite many naysayers who claimed modern-day firecodes and complications in the old designs would render the project impossible, Wanamaker persevered and, with the help of historical advisor John Orrell, architect Theo Crosby of Pentagram, structural and services engineer Buro Happold, and construction company McCurdy & Co., he managed to rebuild it. The theatre, renamed Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, is made of English oak, with no structural steel, and it boasts the first and only thatched roof allowed in London since the Great Fire of 1666. The theatre opened, fittingly enough, with a production of Henry V.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.