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What is the significance of Shakespeare's Globe Theater in Elizabethan times and now?

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The Globe was significant in the past because it was part of the English Renaissance, a time when theater and the arts flourished. It was also the place where many of Shakespeare's plays saw their premieres. Shakespeare himself owned a share in the Globe Theatre.

While the Globe Theatre was not the first playhouse in London, it was one of the early theaters built there. Prior to the late sixteenth century, actors performed plays in inns, college halls, and private homes. In 1576, the Theatre was the first playhouse constructed in London built specifically for drama exhibition. The Globe was built later, up and running by 1599. It stayed in operation (though it had to be rebuilt in 1613 after a fire burned it down) until it was demolished in 1644 by the new Puritan administration, which ordered all theaters closed down.

In the present, the reconstructed Globe has even greater cultural significance. It is a symbol of England's artistic heritage, primarily Shakespeare's plays, which were often performed in the original Globe. Today, the Globe puts on not only Shakespeare's great works but also other dramatic works. It operates as a major tourist attraction, drawing theater lovers from all over the world.

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While Elizabethan theatre was thriving before the Globe Theater was built, it was performed in courtyards and a few other multiple use sites in London, and under London rules.  Not the first structure in England to concentrate on theatre production, The Globe theatre was an early structure built solely for play production, and on the Left Bank of the Thames, technically out of London’s jurisdiction and therefore free of the censorship of London’s Mayor.  Also, the Left Bank was considered a less desirable neighborhood, which became more “trendy” and valuable as the theatre profession flourished there.  Today, the re-invention of the Globe Theatre, using the original design as reconceived by archeologists and theatre scholars, serves as one of the most popular tourists sites in London, and houses restaged versions of many Elizabethan plays.  The home of Shakespeare’s theatre company, the Queen’s Men (later the King’s Men), it gave stability and a ready outlet for Shakespeare’s work.

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