Elizabethan Theatre

Development of the Elizabethan Theatre
Most people associate the Elizabethan Theatre with those built in a similar style to the Globe Theatre - the massive Amphitheatres but the natural development of the Elizabethan Theatre followed a logical progression which can be found detailed below begining with the Elizabethan Strolling Players.

Elizabethan Theatre

Interesting information about the Elizabethan Theatre during the life and times of
William Shakespeare and the Globe Theatre

Progressive development of the Elizabethan Theatre

  • The Strolling Players
  • The licensed Acting Troupes
  • The Inn-yards
  • The Elizabethan Amphitheatres
  • The Playhouses

Development of the Elizabethan Theatre - Wandering Minstrels
Before the 1500's there were no such thing as a theatre in England! There were wandering minstrels who travelled from one town and castle to the next, some street players who entertained people at markets and fairs. The troubadours, strolling players and minstrels were expected to memorize long poems and these recitals were included in their repertoire.

Development of the Elizabethan Theatre - Acting Troupes
Many of the wandering minstrels, or strolling players, were viewed as vagabonds and had the reputation as thieves. The spread and frequent outbreaks of the Bubonic Plague, or Black Death during the Elizabethan era resulted in regulations restricting all people who travelled around the country - licenses were required to travel. This led to licenses for entertainers. Licenses were granted to the nobles of England for the maintenance of troupes of players. The Elizabethan Acting Troupes were formed and the development of the Elizabethan Theatre moved on.

Development of the Elizabethan Theatre - The Inn-yards
Acting troupes had their patrons but the actors could make additional money by playing to ordinary Elizabethans. The Elizabethan Theatre started in the cobbled courtyards of Inns, or taverns - they were therefore called Inn-yards. As many as 500 people would attend play performances. There was clearly some considerable profit to be made in theatrical productions. James Burbage was an actor, who at one time would have played in the Inn-yards and , no doubt , negotiated a high price with the Inn keeper to perform on his premises. It was the idea of James Burbage to construct the first purpose-built Elizabethan theatre - it was called 'The Theatre'.

Development of the Elizabethan Theatre - The 'Theatre' and the Amphitheatres
This type of Elizabethan Theatre was based on the style of the old Greek and Roman open-air amphitheatres. 'The Theatre' was to be the first of many - the Elizabethan Theatre had arrived! The Globe Theatre was constructed in this style. This type of Elizabethan Theatre could hold an audience of up to three thousand Elizabethans! The money started to roll in! However, the profits dropped in the winter as people would not venture to the cold open arenas of this massive open-air amphitheatre style of architecture which was first favored in the Elizabethan Theatre. An indoor structure for an Elizabethan theatre was clearly required...

Development of the Elizabethan Theatre - The Playhouses
The development of the Elizabethan Theatre moved on to indoor theatres which were called Playhouses. The Elizabethan theatre style of the playhouses were therefore used for many winter productions. Many of the playhouses were converted from the old coaching inns or other existing buildings - all productions were staged in the comparative warmth of the indoor design of the Elizabethan Theatre.

The Elizabethan Theatre
Interesting Facts and information about the development of the Elizabethan Theatre. Additional details, facts and information about the Elizabethan Theatre can be accessed via the Globe Theatre Sitemap.

Elizabethan Theatres

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