On 29 June 1613, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre burned to the ground. The thatched roof caught on fire after a theatrical cannon misfired during a production of Henry VIII. Only one man was hurt; his breeches caught on fire, but the quick-thinking fellow put them out with a bottle of ale.
The Globe had been the home of Shakespeare’s company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, since 1599; previously, his plays had been performed in a house known simply as The Theatre, but their lease expired in 1598. The troupe found a loophole: the lease was for the land only, and the company owned the building, so the Lord Chamberlain’s Men dismantled the old theater while the landlord was away for Christmas and brought it with them across the Thames from Shoreditch to Southwark. They used its timbers to build the framework of the Globe, which was also unique in being the first theater built to house a specific theatrical company, and to be paid for by the company itself.
After the fire, the Globe was rebuilt in 1614, and it was in use until 1642, when the Puritans closed all the theaters in London. The building was pulled down two years later to make room for tenements. It was rebuilt in the 1990s, and except for concessions made for fire safety, it is as close to the original Globe as scholars and architects were able to make it.
Have you seen a performance in this recreated Globe? How about the clone of it in San Diego?
I've been to both, and frankly the Nat'l Theatre facility there is Southwark is a better experience - it has all the mod cons.