What Are the Physical Characteristics of the Globe Theatre?

by Natalie Chardonnet

Located in London, England and built in 1599, the Globe Theatre is commonly associated with author William Shakespeare, whose works were produced into plays and performed in the theatre. Although the building was demolished in 1644, a reproduction of the famed Globe Theatre was rebuilt and opened in 1997 in London. Performances continue to this day and millions of visitors are entertained annually.

Shape

The round shape of the Globe Theatre was chosen in order to emulate the Coliseum in Rome. The round design followed the arena shape of ancient Greek and Roman gathering places, and the architects of the theatre believed that imitating Greek and Roman architectural practices would make the theatre more reputable.

Building Materials

For the original Globe Theatre, the builders used a variety of available materials, including timber, plaster, stone, nails and thatch for the roof. Historical accounts discuss the theatre being white with a brown thatched roof, so the reconstructed Globe Theatre was modeled after the accounts to maintain historical accuracy.

Interior Design Features

The interior of the Globe Theatre was meant to accommodate many people, and in order to do so the architects and builders constructed the theatre without seating; spectators paid to watch the performances while standing. Food and beverages were sold to customers through a variety of stall-like constructions, similar to those at arenas today. Additionally, lights were not often used in the theatre; natural lighting was used for productions during the day and artificial lights were sometimes used for specific scenes.

Size

Since there is no photographic evidence of the original Globe Theatre, scholars have had to speculate on its features. They believe that the theatre was about 100 feet in diameter and held a stage between 20 and 45 feet wide.The theatre was large enough to fit about 1,500 patrons inside, although sources believe that as many as 3,000 people would attend performances.

About the Author

Natalie Chardonnet began writing in 2006, specializing in art, history, museums and travel. In 2010, she presented a paper on those subjects at the National Conference of Undergraduate Research. Chardonnet has a Bachelor of Arts in art history and a minor in Italian studies from Truman State University, in addition to a certificate in French from Ifalpes University in Chambery, France.

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