What a treat the theatre was for the people of Elizabethan London. Histories, Tragedies and Comedies written by the greatest playwright of them all - William Shakespeare. The popularity of the theatre reached people from all walks of life - from Royalty to the Nobility and the Commoners. What was a day out at the Elizabethan theatre like for the audiences? Where did they sit? How much did it cost? What did they eat? What were the amenities like? How did illiterate members of the public know what plays were being presented? The London play goers loved the Globe Theatre! It was their opportunity to see the great plays and to see each other!
- Globe Audience Capacity - the Globe theatre could hold 1500 people in the audience and this number expanded to 3000 with the people who crowded outside the theatres
- Royalty - Queen Elizabeth I loved watching plays but these were generally performed in indoor playhouses for her pleasure. She would not have attended the plays performed at the amphitheatres such as the Globe
- The Nobles - Upper Class Nobles would have paid for the better seats in the Lord's rooms paying 5d for the privilege
- The Lower Classes, the Commoners, were called the Groundlings or Stinkards, and would have stood in the theatre pit and paid 1d entrance fee. They put 1 penny in a box at the theatre entrance - hence the term 'Box Office'
The Globe Theatre audiences
The 'groundlings' would pay 1 penny to stand in the 'Yard' of the Globe Theatre. The gentry would pay to sit in the galleries often using cushions for comfort! Rich nobles could watch the play from a chair set on the side of the Globe stage itself. Theatre performances were held in the afternoon, because, of course, there was limited artificial lighting. Men and women attended plays, but often the prosperous women would wear a mask to disguise their identity. The plays were extremely popular and attracted vast audiences to the Globe - the audience capacity was over 1500 people and this amount increased to 3000 when people mingling outside the grounds. In 1599, Thomas Platter noted the cost of admission in his diary:
"There are separate galleries and there one stands more comfortably and moreover can sit, but one pays more for it. Thus anyone who remains on the level standing pays only one English penny: but if he wants to sit, he is let in at a farther door, and there he gives another penny. If he desires to sit on a cushion in the most comfortable place of all, where he not only sees everything well, but can also be seen then he gives yet another English penny at another door. And in the pauses of the comedy food and drink are carried round amongst the people and one can thus refresh himself at his own cost"
Globe Theatre Audience
Interesting Facts and information about the Globe Theatre Audience. Additional details, facts and information about the Globe Theatre can be accessed via the Globe Theatre Sitemap.