The Wooden O
The Globe Theatre was also
known as the Wooden O. The term 'Wooden O' was based on the
wooden building materials used to construct the theatre
which looked a circular shape from a distance. The actual
shape of the Globe had been assumed to have been an
octagonal shaped building. This assumption was based on the
illustrated Visscher map engraving of 1616. But
recent archaeological evidence and other documents, such as
the illustrated Hollar map, indicate that it was actually a
Picture of the Globe Theatre
London Map by Claes Van Visscher
London, England, 1616
Shakespeare's Wooden O
The term 'Wooden O' was
used by William Shakespeare in the prologue to the Play 'Henry V'. The
words used by Shakespeare are as follows:
"Pardon, gentles all, the flat unraised spirits
that hath dared
On this unworthy scaffold to bring forth so great an object.
Can this cockpit hold the vasty fields of France?
Or may we cram Within this wooden O the very casques that did affright
the air at Agincourt?"
William Shakespeare uses his words to fire the imagination of the
audience. He wanted them to forget their current surroundings and
imagine themselves at the Battle of Agincourt. The 'unworthy scaffold'
relates to the stage. At one time travelling players would erect hasty
scaffolds and lay trestles over the top to form temporary stages. In his
reference to the 'cockpit' he is talking to the groundlings who stood in
the 'Pit' or the 'Yard' of the Globe Theatre. The word 'casques' refers
to the French helmets.
The Wooden O
Interesting Facts and information
about the The Wooden O. Additional details, facts and information about the
Globe Theatre can be accessed via the Globe Theatre Sitemap.