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 What was the Globe theater and its audience like?

The Lord Chamberlain's Men, the acting company of which Shakespeare was a member and co-owner, performed at the Theatre, owned and operated by James Burbage on leased land.  After the Theatre land lease expired in 1597, the Burbage family had the Theatre torn down and its materials moved to a new site for the construction of the Globe.  The Globe was an outdoor theater, multi-sided and somewhat doughnut shaped, with most of the stage and the ground surrounding the stage not covered by a roof.  It had several tiers of balconies directly above each other, with benches for seating and covered by a roof.  The audience could stand in the ground area around the stage (those standing were called "groundlings" and paid only 1 pence admission), or sit in the higher priced roofed areas.  Some aristocrats, proud of their appearance and clothing, could sit on the stage for a higher price, hoping to be admired.  The audience included both men and women of all classes of society.  In that sense, the audience was more similar to today's movie audience than today's theater audience. The Globe was built in Southwark, across the Thames from London, so that it would not be subject to the puritanical London government which did not approve of plays.  Many of the audience crossed the Thames by boat.  Performances were held in the afternoon so that people could return home before nightfall. There are excellent websites providing pictures and information concerning the Globe, among them:




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