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 20-sided building.
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.