public theatres



  • Open-air theaters in Elizabethan London. They were called 'public'playhouses to distinguish them from the roofed private theaters,which were no less public but served a more educated and aristocraticaudience.

    The use of open-air venues developed from the outdoor traditionof medieval drama and the later custom of performing plays in theyards of inns. The public theaters continued in use throughoutthe Jacobean and Caroline eras but from about 1610 were used mainlyas summer venues, covered theaters being used in the winter.

    At least nine public theaters were constructed before 1642;all were built outside the City boundary, mainly on the south bankof the Thames. The venues were: the Theatre (1576 - 97),the curtain (1577 - c. 1627), an unnamed theater at NewingtonButts (c. 1579 - c. 1599), the Rose (1587 - c.1606), the Swan (c. 1595 - c. 1632), the first andsecond Globe (1599 - 1613 and 1614 - 44), the first andsecond Fortune (1600 - 21 and 1621 - 61), the Red Bull(1605 - 63), and the Hope (1613 - 17).