- Four theaters bearing this name have existed in London. Theoriginal Globe, a thatched three-galleried structure, was built byRichard and Cuthbert Burbage in 1599. It was constructedfrom timber originally used by their father, Thomas Burbage, to buildthe Theatre in 1576. the Theatre's landlord complainedthat the Burbage brothers had...ryoutously assembled themselves together, and therearmed themselves with dyvers and many unlawfull and offensive weapons...attemptedto pull down the sayd Theater...and...carrye away from thenceall the wood and timber thereof unto the Bancksyde...and thereerected a newe play-house with the sayd timber and wood.Shakespeare, a shareholder in the Globe, acted there withthe Chamberlain's Men, who performed many of his plays atthe theater. In 1613 the theater was destroyed by fire, during a performanceof Henry VIII, but it was rebuilt within a year with funds from aroyal grant and from public subscriptions. The Puritans closed thetheater in 1642 (see the Interregnum) and two years laterit was demolished.
The second Globe Theatre opened in Aldwych in 1868. Owingto their unstable appearance, the Globe and the Opera Comique nextdoor were popularly known as the Rickety Twins. The 1800-capacitytheater, designed, built, and managed by Sefton Parry, had successeswith two transfers, Charles Hawtrey's The Private Secretary(1884) and Brandon Thomas's Charley's Aunt (1893). In 1902,following a revival of Sweet Nell of Old Drury Lane with FredTerry and Julia Neilson, the theater was demolished for the Strandimprovement scheme.
London acquired its third Globe Theatre in 1909, when the Hicks Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue took the name. The venue was renamed the Gielgud Theatre, in honour of Sir John, in 1996.
In the 1970s the US actor Sam Wanamaker embarked on a personal crusadeto reconstruct Shakespeare's Globe on its original site beside the River Thames.This was widely seen as quixotic and met with considerable oppositionfrom Southwark Council. The plans (by Theo Crosby) called for thefirst all-wooden building in London since the great fire of 1666.Nevertheless, construction work proceeded and a German-language performanceof The Merry Wives of Windsor was staged in the theaterto mark the 429th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth in 1993. Since itsofficial opening in 1997, Shakespeare's Globe has rapidly become oneof London's leading tourist attractions. The theater offers an annual seasonof plays by Shakespeare and his contemporaries in a manner that is as close tothe original performance style as practicalities permit (the main differencebeing the use of modern stage lighting). Despite the misgivings of many critics,the Globe's artistic director Mark Rylance showed that such an approachwas by no means incompatible with a fresh and challenging approach to the works.Rylance was succeeded by Dominic Dromgoole in 2004.