Globe Theatre Yard
Interesting information about the Globe Theatre Yard during the life and times of William Shakespeare and the Globe Theatre of Elizabethan London, England
Globe Theatre Yard
The Globe Theatre Yard, or pit, was the area designed for people to stand to watch the plays being performed. This was the cheapest part of the theatre, there were no seats and the entrance price was 1d which was equivalent to about 10% of a days wages. The design of the theatre was similar to the amphitheatres which showed animal sports such as bear baiting. In fact the Bear Garden was right next door to the Globe. The yard in the bear garden consisted of earth which was suitable for animals. The floor of the yard was made of cobble stones - like the floors of the inn-yards. The members of the audience who stood in the pit were often referred to as 'Groundlings'. However, due to the hot summer days they were also referred to as 'Stinkards' - for obvious reasons.
Activities in the Globe Theatre Yard
The Globe Theatre Yard housed the lower classes. The yard was filled with noisy, boisterous people. The activities in the Globe Theatre Yard would have included:
- Gambling - the Elizabethan loved to gamble
- Fights and brawls
- Drinking ( there were no toilet facilities in the theatre )
- Fruit and nut sellers
Henry Crosse in his Vertues Commonwealth; or Highway to honour (1603) stated:
"...the commonest haunters are for the most part, the leaudest persons in the land, apt for pilferie, periurie, forgerie, or any regories, the very scum, rascallitie, and baggage of the people, thieves cutpurses, shifters, cousoners; briefly an uncleane generation, and spaune of vipers...for a play is like a sinke in town; whereunto all the filth doth runne: or a byle in the body, that draweth all the humours into it."
Another description is as follows:
"You will see such heaving and shoving, such itching and shouldering to sit by the women, such care for their garments that they be not trod on . . . such toying, such smiling, such winking, such manning them home ... that it is a right comedy to mark their behaviour"
In 1599, Thomas Platter noted the cost of admission in his diary:
"There are separate galleries and there one stands more comfortably and moreover can sit, but one pays more for it. Thus anyone who remains on the level standing pays only one English penny: but if he wants to sit, he is let in at a farther door, and there he gives another penny. If he desires to sit on a cushion in the most comfortable place of all, where he not only sees everything well, but can also be seen then he gives yet another English penny at another door. And in the pauses of the comedy food and drink are carried round amongst the people and one can thus refresh himself at his own cost"
The Audience in the Globe Theatre Yard
Many of the yard audiences were apprentices who worked in London. The Globe would have particularly attracted these young people and the were many complaints of apprentices avoiding work in order to go to the theatre. Before the Globe Theatre was opened in December 1574 the Common Council of London, under the influences of puritanical factions, issued a statement describing:
" great disorder rampant in the city by the inordinate haunting of great multitudes of people, especially youth, to plays, interludes, namely occasion of frays and quarrels, evil practices of incontinency in great inns having chambers and secret places adjoning to their open stages and galleries, inveigling and alluring of maids, especially of orphans and good citizens' children under age, to privy and unmeet contracts, the publishing of unchaste, uncomely, and unshamefast speeches and doings . . . uttering of popular, busy, and seditious matters, and many other corruptions of youth and other enormities . . . [Thus] from henceforth no play, comedy, tragedy, interlude, not public show shall be openly played or showed within the liberties of the City . . . and that no innkeeper, tavernkeeper, nor other person whatsoever within the liberties of this City shall openly show or play . . . any interlude, comedy, tragedy, matter, or show which shall not be first perused and allowed . . . "
The outcry continued and grew so much that in 1596 London's authorities banned the public presentation of plays and all theatres within the city limits of London and all theatres located in the City were forced to move to the South side of the River Thames - which explains why the Globe was built on the South side of London. The above description provides an idea of the people and some of the activities which occurred in the yard.
Globe Theatre Yard
Interesting Facts and information about the Globe Theatre Yard. Additional details, facts and information about the Globe Theatre can be accessed via the Globe Theatre Sitemap.