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Shakespeare's Globe Theatre Company

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre Company

The first Globe Theatre was built in 1599, on London’s Bankside, for William Shakespeare’s company of players - The Chamberlain’s Men. For over a dozen years it was a colossus of the city’s entertainment scene, presenting what is now regarded as timeless works of genius simply as new plays by a certain William Shakespeare. A good number of his greatest plays were first performed there before it burned down in 1613. The second Globe was rebuilt from the ashes of the first and continued successfully until 1642, when it was finally closed by order of Cromwell, and seemingly disappeared without trace.

The present (third) London Globe was founded by the American actor Sam Wanamaker, and stands very close to the site of Shakespeare’s original playhouse. Wanamaker gathered together a group of leading international scholars and architects to faithfully reconstruct the Globe using only original materials and techniques.

From 1997 until 2005, the Globe company - led by Mark Rylance, the Globe’s first Artistic Director - created a specific body of work on the Globe stage called ‘Original Practices’ which explored hand-made re-created Tudor and Jacobean clothing, period music, dance, crafts and settings. The exploration of Shakespearean pronunciation was added to this enquiry to give audiences a feel for the possible sound of speech in the original playhouse. These re-discovered techniques focus our attention on the actor as story-teller and on the role of music, without the 20th century language of lighting, amplified sound and elaborate scenery. It is in celebration of the ‘Original Practices’ experiment at the Globe that this special album has been created.

The first CD - The Play’s The Thing is a whistle-stop journey, a sampler and guide to ‘hearing at the Globe’ - words and music combining to tell tales of ardent lovers, noble men, earthy peasants and bitter kings. All the musical pieces are performed by the Musicians of Shakespeare’s Globe on period instruments which could have been heard at a playhouse in the 1600s. Audience and actor can be heard together in some rare recordings of live performances from the Globe stage itself. The collection is interspersed with comments in Shakespearean pronunciation by playgoers and witnesses from the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I of England.

The second CD - Groundlings to Gods assembles a wide range of music from Shakespeare’s time. The collection reflects the hierarchy of Elizabethan and Jacobean society, which the Globe’s architecture itself embodies - music of the gods, tears of the muses, fanfares for kings and princes, courtly dances, music for banquets, songs, exuberant jigs and bawdy entertainment for taverns and brothels. From the standing Groundlings (playgoers in the yard) to the seated luxury of the Lords’ Rooms – entertainment for all.

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