In Shakespeare's day, plays were performed in private houses, in public places such as inn-yards and public squares, and in specially built theatres. The Lord Chamberlain's Men built their own theatre, the Globe, in 1599. A Midsummer Night's Dream was probably first performed a few years before this, and is likely to have been performed at a private house during the celebration of a wedding (Brooks 1979: liii). It was almost certainly performed publicly after this first performance, and is likely to have been performed at the Globe.

After the Globe was closed by the puritans in 1642, it was torn down. Today the site of the original Globe is buried under a listed 19th century building and Southwark Bridge Road. (Gurr 1998: 16) This makes excavation impossible. We don't know exactly what the Globe looked like. Most of the evidence is circumstantial. Excavation of the Rose and of part of the original Globe have given tangible evidence of the foundation of Elizabethan theatres. Until the excavations of the Rose in 1989, the best evidence of the appearance of these theatres was a copy of a sketch of the Swan. A Dutch visitor to London, Johannes de Witt, made a drawing of a play he saw at the Swan in 1596. A friend copied the drawing, and this copy was found in 1888.

In 1997 a reconstruction of the Globe was completed, close to the site of the orginal Globe. Among other things, the New Globe web site provides photos of the reconstructed theatre, some information about the original, and it also maintains a bibliography of work on Elizabethan theatre buildings and the Globe.


This section of the site will be about Elizabethan theatres in general and The Globe in particular.