The Globe Playhouse: Its Design and Equipment

By John Cranford Adams | Go to book overview

Chapter V
THE TIRING-HOUSE: EXTERIOR

1. INTRODUCTION

RISING from the rear line of the Globe platform, and forming a permanent scenic wall, stood the "tiring- house."

Prologus. Or, with three rustie swords, And helpe of some few foot-and-halfe-foote words, Fight ouer Yorke, and Lancasters long iarres: And in the tyring-house bring wounds, to scarres. -- Every Man in his Humour, 1616.

The name was derived from the curtained alcove (or "tyre- house") used as a dressing room on platforms antedating inn-yard theatres; before 1599 it had come to refer not merely to the dressing rooms but to a three-story section of the playhouse frame containing several small stages, dressing and property rooms, a music gallery, connecting passageways, and stairs. All these were constructed in the space, 12½ feet deep, which lay between the outer and inner walls of the frame. The tiring-house was closed off from the spectator galleries by partitions on all floors. In the Globe it occupied one-quarter of the octagonal frame, and thus bore approximately the same proportion to the spectator's share of the playhouse that a modern stage- house (including wings, backstage, dressing and property rooms) bears to its auditorium.

When Burbage's Theater was built in 1576, probably only one of the eight sections which made up the frame was devoted to actors' use, but this space represented a marked increase in size and convenience over the accommodations previously available. A single section of the

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