HISTORY June 29, 1613: ‘Oh Sorrow, Pittifull Sorrow’ The Globe Theater Burns Down

globe-burning

The Globe Theater, where most of Shakespeare’s plays debuted, burned down on this day in 1613.

The Globe was built by Shakespeare’s acting company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, in 1599 from the timbers ofLondon’s very first permanent theater, Burbage’s Theater, built in 1576. frts-richard-ii-q2-1598-1Before James Burbage built his theater, plays and dramatic performances were ad hoc affairs, performed on street corners and in the yards of inns. However, the Common Council of London, in 1574, started licensing theatrical pieces performed in inn yards within the city limits. To escape the restriction, actor James Burbage built his own theater on land he leased outside the city limits. When Burbage’s lease ran out, the Lord Chamberlain’s men moved the timbers to a new location and created the Globe. Like other theaters of its time, the Globe was a round wooden structure with a stage at one end, and covered balconies for the gentry. The galleries could seat about 1,000 people, with room for another 2,000 “groundlings,” who could stand on the ground around the stage.

globe-illus

The Lord Chamberlain’s men built Blackfriars theater in 1608, a smaller theater that seated about 700 people, to use in winter when the open-air Globe wasn’t practical.

June 29, 2012, at theshakespeareblog.com, Sylvia Morris writes:

The remains must still have been smoking when the amusing ballad A Sonnett upon the pittiful burneinge of the Globe Playhouse in London was printed the next day. It consists of eight verses, each one ending with the refrain punning on the alternative title for Henry VIII, “All is true”.  “Oh sorrow, pittifull sorrow, and yet all this is true”. Here are two verses:

Globe Theatre p82_0

No shower his raine did there downe force
In all that Sunn-shine weather
To save that great renowned howse;
Nor thou, O ale-house, neither.
Had itt begunne belowe, sans doubte,
Their wives for feare had pissed itt out.
Oh sorrow, pittifull sorrow, and yet all this is true.

 Bee warned, yow stage-strutters all,
Least yow again be catched,
And such a burneing doe befall,
As to them whose howse was thatched;
Forbeare your whoreing, breeding biles,
And laye up that expence for tiles.
Oh sorrow, pittifull sorrow, and yet all this is true.

While no lives were lost it’s tantalising to think how many playscripts and other documents might have been lost when the theatre burned down….(read more)

HISTORY.com



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