Watch this short guide of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London and say whether the statements below are true or false.
The activity is suitable for intermediate 2 students.
1 The Globe Theatre was originally built in the 16th century.
2 The plays were performed at night.
3 The cheapest seats were in the open.
4 Women were not allowed in the public.
5 The Church did not approve of theatre.
6 Umbrellas were not allowed.
7 The audience had an active part in the plays.
8 Hearing the play was more important than seeing it.
9 The Zodiac signs represent the sky or heavens.
10 The building where the theatre is burnt twice in the 16th century.
Behind me is Shakespeare's theatre, rebuilt recently but it was originally constructed in the seventeenth century. And its name is the Globe, which comes from the expression everyone in the world is an actor.
The conditions at the time when this would have been built were very different from the way actors work now. It was all done during the day because they didn't have enough money to afford candles to put on the plays at night. So there would have been far more interaction between the public and the actors. And in fact, the groundlings, which were the cheapest seats just under the open cover, they would shout at the actors and throw things at them if they didn't like the play.
At the time, as well, none of the actors were women because they weren't allowed to be in plays. And also the church was very critical of theatre. It called it the nest of the devil and it was usually just outside the city walls because it wasn't really allowed in those days. It was seen as something very popular and affordable because just as I said before, the cheapest seats could be afforded by everyone.
So this is where the groundlings stand and to come here it’s only five pounds to see a play and they say it's one of the best places even though if it rains, umbrellas aren't allowed so you're going to get wet. But they say it would have been the best place as well because the audience participated as well so you are right next to the actor's foot. You could see up his nose and if he spat down at you, as I said, there's no umbrellas allowed. So it would have been a big problem. But there's great participation because the audience can see you, the actors, everybody's involved in the play which makes kind of a difference from the typical West End play where everybody's in the dark. Here, you felt like you were really part of it.
Signs of the zodiac known as the heavens, there's a trap door in heaven as well, which is open at the moment, and you come down from heaven... it does look quite dangerous...
The Globe Theatre puts on plays mainly by Shakespeare and they're pretty authentic even down to the finest details like the original seventeenth century underwear. So its probably not that comfortable. And nowadays we go and see a play but back then the most important thing was the acoustics. It was more important that you heard the play and so wherever you sat, the more expensive seats were the ones that had the best sound.
The stage represents three different elements, the top with the Zodiac signs, it's painted blue, represents heaven or the sky. There's even a trap door you can come down from. And the stage itself represents the earth and there's a trapdoor to go underneath which represents hell.
This round shape kind of increases the sense of participation. The building itself though was hard to get permission for because remember in the seventeenth century it had burned down twice. So to make this thatched kind of roof after the Great Fire of London was pretty tough to do. It took them eight years to get permission but they finally managed to go ahead with it.
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Not if it’s a summer's day in London.
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