04 English Renaissance Theatre（ Shakespeare’s Theatre ）
The Renaissance movement reaches the Kingdom of England and a unique theater culture blooms
Unique spatial structuring that sets a precedent for the theater of modern days
Globe Theatre / Shakespeare’s Globe
The Renaissance movement spread from Italy throughout Europe, but in the area of theatrical art, it resulted in a unique development in the Kingdom of England. Elizabethan drama, especially the works by William Shakespeare, enjoyed great popularity and specialized theaters were constructed. Here, we would like to refer to the group of those theaters as Shakespeare’s theaters.
One of them is the Globe Theater, constructed in 1599 for Lord Chamberlain’s Men as a place to perform plays by Shakespeare. However, the theater existed only for a short period, as it was destroyed by a fire in 1613. The Second Globe Theater was reconstructed in the same place and continued to operate until 1642.
It is not known exactly how Shakespeare’s theaters were born, and there are various theories. Those include hypotheses that they originated from the format of an inn’s courtyard, or the format of a bear-baiting arena. Although the theater does not use the one-point perspective representation (see Panel 03) introduced in Renaissance theaters in Italy, it has a unique spatial structure that may have served as the prototype of the modern open-stage style (a style where there is no separation between the stage and the audience seats, in contrast to the proscenium stage, where the stage and the audience seats are separated by a frame).
The theater consisted of an overhanging, elevated stage (Figure A-b) with a high roof (Figure A-a), and three levels of circular or polygonal stadium-style seats with a roof (Figure A-c, seats built higher than the stage) surrounding the stage. The elevated stage was surrounded by an earthen floor without a roof, from which the stage could be viewed from three sides (Figure A-d). This space must have been packed with a standing audience. Because the audience seats surrounded the stage, a balcony-like space appeared behind the stage (Figure A-e). Here, lovers’ dialogues, like those seen in Romeo and Juliet, took place. There was also a hole cut in the floor of the stage (Figure A-f, a hole with a lid that connects the stage and underneath the stage), which was used for performing burial and other scenes. The Globe Theater has been reconstructed near its original location based on an historic investigation and it is a reminder of its original glory.
Text by SHIMIZU Hiroyuki
01 Original site of the Globe Theatre
02 Shakespeare’s Globe
03 Paris Garden （Original site of The Swan）
04 The Swan Theatre