The Theatre

The first building in London specially devoted to the performances of plays, known simply as 'The Theatre,' was built in Shoreditch, by James Burbage. The Theatre, and the Courtein (Curtain), opened eighteen years before the Globe at Bankside, and stood here from 1577 to 1598. The name Theatre was forevermore to be associated with plays and outlived this first playhouse venue. It was on this spot in 1576 that Burbage, a joiner and one of the Earl of Leicester's players, secured the lease on a barn with some adjoining land on which he built The Theatre. James's son Richard, the greatest tragedian actor of his time, was one of the first players here alongside a new arrival from Stratford, William Shakespeare, who worked as a call boy in the theatre. After a dispute with the landowner who was a Puritan, and therefore in those times viewed actors and such like as evil and devil worshipers. One nightfall in 1598, Richard Burbage and his brother Cuthbert Burbage, who upon the death of their father, took over the lease that was due to expired, dismantled the theatre that was built of wood and transported it to Bankside, re-building and re-naming it the 'Globe.'

The present day site of The Theatre, Curtain Road.

The London Borough of Hackney, Shakespeare plaque at the site of The Theatre, Curtain Road.


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