inns

Definition

Theater

  • Inn-yards were often used as theaters by strolling playersin 16th-century Europe. The first recorded use of a galleried inn-yardfor this purpose was in Malaga, Spain, in 1520 (see corralesde comedias). The practice brought extra business to theinns, but often the performers were only paid by taking up a collection(known as bottling). English inn-yards were well suited tohold a raised trestle stage: spectators could watch from the first-floorwalkways, balconies, and the yard, some sitting on the acting area.All these features were adapted by James Burbage (see Burbagefamily) for England's first public playhouse, the Theatre.

    The first recorded performances at London inns were in 1557at the Saracen's Head, Islington and the Boar's Head near Aldgatewhere a 'lewd' play, A Sack Full of News, was suppressed andthe actors arrested. Within the City of London, the Queen's Men performedat the Bell in Gracechurch (then Gracious) Street and at the Bullin Bishopsgate, which began hosting drama before 1575 and continuedfor more than two decades. Strange's Men played at the CrossKeys Inn, also in Gracechurch Street, which served as a venue frombefore 1579 until about 1596. The Bel Savage on Ludgate Hill regularlypresented plays from 1579 to 1588. Some inns were converted into permanenttheaters, such as the Boar's Head near Aldgate, adapted in 1597 - 99,and the Red Bull in Clerkenwell, adapted in 1605.

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