The play that destroyed the first Globe theatre when a shot from a stage cannon set fire to the thatched roof in 1613 is being performed this summer for the first time ever in the modern recreation of the venue. Director Mark Rosenblatt said there is still an explosion in his production of Henry VIII at the same point the old Globe caught fire–during Act I, Scene IV–to announce the king’s entrance, but he cited the theatre’s modern-day sprinkler system as a fail-safe against history repeating itself. On the day the play opened last week, the cast and crew led a ceremonial soaking of the outer walls of the theatre before the performance.
The poet Sir Henry Wotton recorded the 1613 fire, describing how “being thought at first an idle smoke, and [the crowd’s] eyes more attentive to the show, it kindled inwardly and ran around like a train, consuming within less than an hour the whole house to the very grounds.”
When the Globe reopened in 1996, it was the first thatched building in London since the Great Fire of London in 1666. The performance of Henry VIII runs until August 21.