The Red Bull Playhouse

Mark Bayer

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 Red Bull Playhouse

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


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In 1617, the Servants of Queen Anne, the resident theatrical troupe who had enjoyed over a decade playing at the Red Bull, a large amphitheatre-style theatre erected in what had previously been an inn in the north-west suburb of Clerkenwell, moved to the Cockpit, a significantly more intimate and highbrow private theatre in Drury Lane. Many in the community, including many whom were assumed to be frequent playgoers, reacted violently and vociferously. Rioters gathered at the Fortune, another theater in nearby Finsbury, and moved to the Cockpit with a clear design to cause damage to the newly occupied playhouse. What can this highly violent altercation tell us about the Red Bull playhouse, the plays performed there, and its place within the broader London theatrical industry? As the actions of the rioters suggest, Red Bull audiences were remarkably loyal, making that theatre one of the most popular and most notorious playhouses in early modern London until their closure in 1642 and even beyond into the Restoration.

Keywords: Red Bull; rioters; audiences; theatre; London; playhouses; Cockpit; Servants of Queen Anne

Article.  8173 words. 

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

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