• In the Elizabethan and Jacobean theater, those members of the audiencewho stood in the open area around the stage rather than occupying seats inthe galleries. As this was the cheapest way to see a play, the groundlingswere generally the poorest and least sophisticated part of the audience,with a reputation for heckling, brawling, and drunkenness. The frustrationsof having to cater to such an audience are expressed in Hamlet's advice tothe players:
    O, it offends me to the soul to hear a robustious periwig-pated fellowtear a passion to tatters, to very rags, to split the ears of the groundlings,who for the most part are capable of nothing but inexplicable dumb-shows andnoise...
    Hamlet, (III, ii)

    After some 350 years the tradition of standing in the open to watch aplay has been revived at the reconstructed Globe Theatre on London'sSouth Bank.