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Shakespeare’s Globe is a faithful reconstruction of the 1599 open-air playhouse where Shakespeare used to work. Audience members can pay just £5 to stand as “groundlings” in the yard in front of the stage. As well as watching plays from April to October, visitors can take a tour of the world-famous theatre all year-round. Here are just a few of the fascinating facts that you’ll learn about the theatre on the Globe tour:
1. The Original Globe Theatre Burned Down
The first Globe theatre burned down in 1613 during a performance of Henry VIII, when a theatrical cannon misfired, igniting the thatched roof and wooden beams. Miraculously, no-one died in the blaze.
2. Planets Rocked in 1599
The Globe’s dimensions were dictated by the movement of the planets during the reign of Elizabeth I (1533-1603).
3. Odd Beam Out
The theatre’s wooden frame is made entirely from oak except for one mahogany beam which was donated by a well-meaning but ill-informed patron.
4. Animal Magic
In the 1997 production of Henry V, the actress playing The Queen of France had to deliver a speech with a pigeon on her head.
5. Gory Play Polishes Off Audience
Lucy Bailey’s 2006 production of Titus Andronicus was so gruesome and gory that the Globe reported “a higher level of fainters than we normally would experience”. Once the story hit the press, the play was an immediate sell-out. Famous for being Shakespeare’s bloodiest play, Titus Andronicus features cannibalism, mutilation and more than 12 grizzly murders.
Find out more about the Globe Exhibition and Tour here