The Theatre in Shoreditch 1576–1599

Gabriel Egan

in The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Theatre

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199697861
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

 The Theatre in Shoreditch 1576–1599

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  • Literature
  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)
  • Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights)


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For thirty-seven years, the wood and plaster structure of the first permanent playhouse built in England since the Romans left in the fifth century CE stood for all to see, to celebrate, or to argue over. Then, as suddenly and surprisingly as it came, the building disappeared. In 1964, Sidney Fisher identified the playhouse as the Theatre in Shoreditch, thereby overturning the identification of the playhouse as the Curtain that was made by the modern finder of the picture ten years earlier, Leslie Hotson. Fisher's identification of the Theatre stood for thirty-seven years until it was itself overturned by Herbert Berry's proof that Leslie Hotson was right — it really is the Curtain. The Theatre was the first of a kind of venue — the open-air amphitheatres — that lasted until the general closure of playhouses by Parliament in 1642. This article traces the origins of the Theatre in Shoreditch and describes its structure and deconstruction, the occupants, their plays, and their audiences.

Keywords: Theatre in Shoreditch; England; plays; deconstruction; playhouses; Sidney Fisher; Leslie Hotson; Curtain; Herbert Berry; open-air amphitheatres

Article.  9067 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800) ; Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights)

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