Interesting Facts and information about
People and events in Elizabethan Theatres
The Inn-Yards, Playhouses and Amphitheatres, like
the Globe provided the venues for Elizabethan Theatrical productions
Picture of the Globe Theatre
The Elizabethan Theatres
started in the cobbled courtyards of Inns - they were called
Inn-yards. As many as 500 people would attend play
performances. There was clearly some considerable profit to be
made in theatrical productions. James Burbage was an actor,
who at one time would have played in the Inn-yards and, no
doubt , negotiated a high price with the Inn keeper to perform on his
It was the idea of James Burbage to construct
the first purpose-built theatre - it was called 'The Theatre'.
It was based on the style of the old Greek and Roman open-air
amphitheatres. 'The Theatre' was to be the first of many
Elizabethan Theatres. However, profit dropped in the winter as
people would not venture to the cold open arenas of these
massive Elizabethan Theatres. Playhouses were therefore used
for many winter productions. Many of the playhouses were
converted from the old coaching inns or other existing
buildings - all productions were staged in the comparative
warmth of these indoor Elizabethan Theatres. Most people
associated Elizabethan Theatres with those built in a similar
style to the Globe Theatre - the massive Amphitheatres.
Interesting Facts and Information about
Some interesting facts and
information about Elizabethan Theatres
The Amphitheatres were designed as an open
of Elizabethan Theatre: Up
to 100 feet in diameter.
Shapes of Elizabethan Theatre: Octagonal
circular in shape having between 8 and
materials used in the construction of
Elizabethan Theatres: Timber,
nails, stone (flint), plaster and thatched roofs. Later
had tiled roofs.
Building Duration: 6 months.
design of the Elizabethan Theatre: The
open air arena of the amphitheatre was called the 'pit' or the
'yard'. The stage of the amphitheatre
projected halfway into the 'pit'. It had a raised stage at one end
which was surrounded by three tiers of
roofed galleries with balconies
overlooking the back of the stage.
Grounds of the theatre: Bustling
with people. Stalls selling merchandise
. People relieved themselves outside.
Sewage was buried in pits or disposed of
in the River Thames. All theatres closed
during outbreaks of the Bubonic
Plague - disease would have spread
via the rats & fleas.
Entrance to the theatre: Usually
one main entrance. Some later theatres
had external staircases to access the
'Box ' and the
'Box Office': Playgoers
put 1 penny in a box at the Elizabethan theatre
the start of the play the admission
collectors put the boxes in a room backstage - the box office.
to the Balconies & Galleries:
sets of stairs, either side if the
gallery would cost another penny in the box
which was held by a collector at the front of the stairs.
The second gallery would cost another
owners of the theatre.
in the Elizabethan Theatre: Natural
lighting as plays were produced in the
afternoon. However there was some
artificial lighting mainly intended to
provide atmosphere for night scenes.
in the Elizabethan Theatre: There
was no heating. Plays were performed in
the summer months and transferred to the
indoor playhouses during the winter.
foot wide 15 foot deep to 45 feet to 30
height of the stage: A
raised stage - 3 to 5 feet and supported
by large pillars or trestles.
floor of the Stage: Made
of wood, sometimes covered with rushes.
Trap doors would enable some special
effects e.g. smoke in the Elizabethan
rear of the Stage: A
roofed house-like structure was at the
rear of the stage, supported by two
large columns (pillars).
'Heavens' served to create an area
hidden from the audience. This area
provided a place for actors to hide. A
selection of ropes & rigging would
allow for special effects, such as
flying or dramatic entries.
was an extra effect added in the 1600's.
'pit' (also referred to as
the 'yard'): The
stage projected halfway into the 'pit',
also called the 'yard' (if tiled or
cobbled) where the
commoners (groundlings) paid 1 penny to
stand to watch the play.
who paid 1 penny admission to stand to
watch the play.
the height of the summer the groundlings
were also referred to as 'stinkards' for
to the Galleries: Two
sets of stairs, either side of the
Elizabethan Theatre. The stairways could also
be external to the main structure to
give maximum seating space.
in the galleries - Three levels:
seats in each of the three levels of
galleries were tiered with three rows of
wooden benches, increasing in size
towards the back, following the shape of
the building. The galleries in
Elizabethan Theatre were covered
affording some shelter from the
Sites and Map of London
Details, facts and information about each of
the major Elizabethan Theatres.
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