12 June 1997

Queen Elizabeth II reopens the Globe Theatre in London.

The Globe Theatre in London is an iconic and historic playhouse associated with the works of William Shakespeare. It was originally built in 1599 by the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, a company of actors to which Shakespeare belonged. The theater was located in the Bankside district of London, on the southern bank of the River Thames, not far from its current reconstructed site.

The original Globe Theatre was a three-story, open-air amphitheater that could accommodate an audience of around 3,000 people. It was a circular structure with a stage at one end and three tiers of seating surrounding it. The theater was designed to provide an intimate experience for the audience, with the stage jutting out into the crowd, allowing for close interaction between the actors and spectators.

The Globe Theatre quickly became the primary venue for Shakespeare’s plays during the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Many of his most famous works, such as “Romeo and Juliet,” “Hamlet,” and “Macbeth,” were performed there. The theater also showcased plays by other renowned playwrights of the time.

In 1613, during a performance of Shakespeare’s play “Henry VIII,” a cannon fired as part of the production caused the thatched roof to catch fire. The Globe Theatre burned to the ground within a few hours, but no one was killed in the incident. The theater was subsequently rebuilt on the same site the following year, with some modifications to improve safety.

Unfortunately, the reconstructed Globe Theatre suffered another setback during the English Civil War in 1642 when all theaters were ordered to be closed by the Puritan government. The theater was demolished, and the site was eventually redeveloped for housing.

In the late 20th century, the idea to reconstruct the Globe Theatre emerged, driven by American actor and director Sam Wanamaker. The new Globe Theatre, called “Shakespeare’s Globe,” was built near the original site on Bankside. The reconstruction aimed to recreate the theater as faithfully as possible to its Elizabethan predecessor, using traditional materials and construction techniques.

Shakespeare’s Globe officially opened in 1997 and has since become a major tourist attraction in London. The theater features an open-air yard where groundlings (standing spectators) can watch performances, as well as three tiers of seating. The design closely resembles the original Globe Theatre, and it hosts a variety of Shakespearean plays and other productions throughout the year.