The Phoenix and the Cockpit-in-Court Playhouses

Frances Teague

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 Phoenix and the Cockpit-in-Court Playhouses

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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)
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Among London's playhouses, none is so ornithological as the Phoenix, although the Cockpit-in-Court at Whitehall comes close. The Phoenix began as a cockpit: the Drury Lane property that was the precursor to the playhouse included ‘Cockepittes and the Cockhouses and shedds’. The manager, Christopher Beeston, converted it to a theatre to improve his company's profits in Jacobean London; under his management (and then under his son's), the playhouse was particularly successful before the Civil War. Performances of quasi-legality continued in the Commonwealth and legally in the Restoration, until the newer Drury Lane Theatre put it out of business. Initially called the Cockpit theatre, it was renamed the Phoenix after a disastrous fire. While both the Phoenix and the Cockpit-in-Court were converted cockpits, they were not the only such London sites. This article traces the history of the two playhouses and compares their structures.

Keywords: London; playhouses; Phoenix; Cockpit-in-Court; Whitehall; Drury Lane; theatre; Christopher Beeston; cockpits; history

Article.  8517 words. 

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

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