LONDON'S original Globe Theatre, which opened in 1599, was built by a company called the Lord Chamberlain's Men.
It had William Shakespeare as a shareholder, writer and actor, because a new venue, Blackfriars Theatre, built for the team in the up-market London suburb Blackfriars, led to the wealthy residents of that suburb, who sneered about stage works, persuading the government in 1596 to block its use for plays.
The company initially rented one of London's few playhouses and decided, in early 1599, to move to Southwark, on the southern side of the Thames Theatre, where stood an old theatre that had long been closed.
They carefully pulled down the theatre and used the timber they recovered in the construction of the theatre. And, as the block on which they were building was circular, they designed the theatre as a globe to match the shape of the block. As there were few theatres at that time and people stood around actors performing in streets, they hoped that would attract people.
The theatre was a 20-sided structure, as near to a circle as Elizabethan carpentry could make it. It stood more than nine metres high, with three levels of seating in its semi-circular roofed galleries, which held about 1000 people, and standing room for about 2000 people in the much-cheaper open-air space, "the pit", between the galleries and the stage. The rectangular, five-metre-high roofed stage had several entrances for the actors, a balcony and a lift. As there was internal lighting, the plays were staged in the afternoon.
While Southwark was not a popular part of London, due to its reputation for being the city's home of prostitutes and misbehaved people, the quality of the Shakespeare plays staged there, which included, among many others, Macbeth, Othello, King Lear and Hamlet, led to many people crossing the river to see the shows.
Sadly, in 1613, the Globe Theatre went up in flames during a premiere performance of Henry VIII, then known as All Is True, when a stage cannon that was fired led to the thatched straw roof catching fire. The audience and theatre team were able to quickly flee the theatre before it burnt down.
Fortunately, a new Globe Theatre, which had a larger roof with no thatching, was built in 12 months and opened in June, 1614. And, while Shakespeare died in 1616, the theatre continued to operate until 1642, when the Puritans, who had taken over control of Britain, demolished the theatre, declaring that theatres were places of "evil sin".
In 1970, American actor Sam Wanamaker, who was driven by the notion of reconstructing a replica of the Globe, established the Shakespeare Globe Playhouse Trust. And 17 years later a groundbreaking ceremony was held near the site of the original Globe. Using traditional methods and materials, with only a few concessions to modern fire regulations and the like, builders completed work on the new theatre in the mid-1990s, with it opening in 1997. The new theatre is not a perfect replica of the original building. While it is still open to the sky, it is made, for example, from new timber with sprinkler valves in the ridging of the thatched gallery roofing, and including conduits for electrical wiring.
There is also an audience restriction, with a maximum of 1600 people allowed, roughly half the number that attended the original Globe.
Plays are put on during the summer, usually between May and the first week of October. In the winter the theatre is used for educational purposes.
Tours are available all year round.
There have been many replicas of the Globe Theatre built around the world, including six in the United States, three in Germany, two in Japan, and one each in Italy and the Czech Republic.
One of the most engaging versions was developed by Tim Fitzpatrick, a Sydney University Professor in the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies.
Assisted by an associate, he put together a computer-aided design of a pop-up Globe, after being approached by New Zealand's Auckland-based theatre festival Pop-Up Globe to develop such a venue so that Shakespeare's death in 1616 could have a 400th year celebration in New Zealand.
Comprised of a round three-storey steel frame "skinned" in plywood, the reconstruction reflects all the original design features - including a 100 square metre stage and 'onion dome' top - and it can seat audiences of up to 900 people. The seasons invariably include four of Shakespeare's plays.
The success of the first Auckland season in 2016 lead to two more seasons being staged, with different plays at each season, and more than 110,000 people attending.
The Pop-Up Globe has subsequently had seasons in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. The Melbourne season, in 2017, was ironically presented at the Shakespeare Garden, across from the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, with popular plays from the Auckland season.
That show's artistic director, Dr Miles Gregory, noted that: "It's like a party, we do Shakespeare properly but we have a lot of fun. There's swordfights, fake blood, and singing and dancing casts."
The Melbourne shows included Othello, As You Like It, Much Ado About Nothing and Henry V, with more than 150,00 people attending.
The Sydney 2018 season in Moore Park and the Perth 2019 season at Crown Perth also were hits.