Blackfriars Theatre



  • The name of two private theaters built in the ruins of BlackfriarsPriory, near the north bank of the Thames in London. They were amongstthe first candle-lit indoor theaters in London, allowing performancesin bad weather and during the winter.

    The first small theater was built in 1576 by Richard Farrant,master of the choirboys of Windsor. After his death in 1581 it wasused by other boy companies until 1584, when the space wasleased as lodgings.

    In 1596 James Burbage (see Burbage family)attempted to open a second venue on the site suitable for his companyfrom the Theatre. His plans were obstructed by officials,and he died before the work was completed in 1600 by his sons Richardand Cuthbert Burbage, who leased the venue for eight years to theChildren of the Chapel Royal. Cuthbert eventually became co-ownerof the rectangular theater, which had benches for the audience andmade use of special painted scenery. The King's Men (see Chamberlain'sMen) became the resident company in 1608 and lured the nobility with plays by Shakespeare, Jonson, Beaumont, and Fletcher. The theater was closed in 1642 by the Puritans and demolished in 1655.