The Beginning of Theaters in England

Essay by sophia_lispectator March 2006

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London's first theater was opened when Shakespeare was about twelve years old, and the whole theatrical system came into being during his lifetime.

It all started with acting troupes, which consisted of three to four men and a boy to play the female roles. These troupes would travel around the country and act anywhere: in town squares, pageants, inn courtyards, noblemen's halls. Many troupes were formed by unsavory characters that caused a lot of trouble and gave a bad name to actors. Therefore, trying to bring some order into the system, in 1574 Queen Elizabeth decided to grant licenses to noblemen for the maintenance of acting troupes that would bear their names. Afterwards, a number of laws and regulations followed that were all quickly broken. Such was the Code of Practice that was imposed upon players by the city authorities in 1575 which caused the actors to leave the city.

This, however, did not last for a long time and theaters started opening across the city of London only a year later. In 1576, the first theater was opened by John Burbage, and it was named simply: The Theatre. It was the home of many troupes but most of all to the Lord Chamberlain's Men. In 1577 The Curtain was opened next to The Theatre and it was also to be used by Shakespeare's troupe. In 1587 The Rose arose and in 1596 The Swan was built next to it. The Swan eventually became famous because it was in it that the Pembroke's Men staged Nashe's The Isle of Dogs that got all the theaters closed by the authorities. The year 1599 was the year when The Globe was open. It was built next to The Rose and from the timber taken from The Theater. Today's Globe is a faithful...