The Globe Playhouse: Its Design and Equipment

By John Cranford Adams | Go to book overview

Chapter III
THE AUDITORIUM

1. THE SIGN

OF THE octagonal frame of the Globe three-quarters was converted into spectator-galleries encircling a corresponding portion of the playhouse yard, and the remaining quarter into a highly complex acting area (known as the "tiring-house") fronted by a large platform stage projecting into the yard. These two portions of the building were as distinct in appearance as they were in function, and I shall discuss them in turn.

In common with other playhouses of the same type,1 the Globe had a sign prominently displayed over the main entrance. Johannes de Witt, a Dutch priest visiting London in 1596, reported that signs were affixed to the four public playhouses then standing:

The two more magnificent of these are situated to the southward beyond the Thames, and from the signs suspended before them are called the Rose and the Swan.2

The rebuilt Fortune, and doubtless the original Fortune likewise, had a sign over the entrance door:

I'le rather stand here,
Like a statue in the fore-front of your house,
For ever, like the picture of Dame Fortune
Before the Fortune Playhouse.3

____________________
1
I have found no record of a sign affixed to any private playhouse.
2
Cited from the translation quoted by Adams, p. 167.
3
Thomas Heywood, The English Traveller ( 1633), ed. Pearson, iv. 84, cited
by Adams, p. 277. Dr. Adams adds: "Heywood generally used 'picture' in the
sense of 'statue'."

-31-

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