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Squaring the Circle: Comparing the Fortune and the Globe

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 July 2017


In the many discussions of the different shapes and capacities of the playhouses of Elizabethan and Jacobean London, insufficient attention has been paid to the impact of differing theatre forms upon the spectators. In this article, Andrew Gurr points out that the first Globe on Bankside, built from the timbers of the Theatre in Shoreditch, and the Fortune, erected for Henslowe's company on the other side of the river, just to the north of the City, were both the work of the same builder, Peter Street. He discusses the differences the shapes of the two playhouses – the Globe polygonal, the Fortune square – had on their construction and the spectators’ reception. Because the audience capacity had to be similar, this meant that spectators at the Fortune, especially latecomers, would need to squeeze into corners of the building, with their ability to see and hear what was happening on stage much restricted. In addition to his many books, among them the now classic study, The Shakespearean Stage, 1574–1642 (1992), Andrew Gurr was chief academic advisor in the ‘rebuilding’ of Shakespeare's Globe on the South Bank. He is Professor Emeritus at the University of Reading.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2017 

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