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date: 01 July 2022

London Theatrical Culture, 1560–1590locked

London Theatrical Culture, 1560–1590locked

  • Andy Kesson, Andy KessonSchool of Humanities, University of Roehampton
  • Lucy MunroLucy MunroDepartment of English, King's College London
  •  and Callan DaviesCallan DaviesUniversity of Roehampton

Summary

Early modern drama was a product of the new theatrical spaces that began to open from the 1560s onward, multiple venues in and just outside London that played to a significant proportion of Londoners on most afternoons. Revisiting the evidence for this historical moment offers the opportunity to look afresh at the playhouses, plays, and playmakers that drove this new theatrical culture. These three terms include the inns and indoor spaces that regularly hosted plays, alongside the now more familiar outdoor, amphitheatrical venues the Theatre and the Rose; plays onstage, plays in print, and plays that are now lost; and the writers, actors, company managers, and male and female playhouse builders and investors who made the creation and performance of those plays possible. Conventional histories of this period’s theaters have tended to concentrate on the opening of the Theatre in 1576 as the first such playhouse. Scholarship of the late 20th and early 21st centuries shows that this event was not the initiating formative act it has come to seem, and emphasizes instead the multiple decades and kinds of playing space that need to be attended to in understanding the earliest years of the playhouses. Multiple kinds of playing company, too, operated in this period, in particular companies made up of predominantly adult male performers, with boys playing female roles, and companies composed entirely of boy performers.

Subjects

  • Enlightenment and Early Modern (1600-1800)

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