Documentary evidence for an Indoor Jacobean theatre

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Publication details

Title of host publicationMoving Shakespeare Indoors
DatePublished - 2014
Number of pages14
PublisherCambridge University Press
Place of PublicationCambridge
EditorsAndrew Gurr, Farah Karim-Cooper
Original languageEnglish
ISBN (Print)9781107040632


Historical records that relate to the building of pre-Civil war indoor theatres are rare. Clues about these theatres’ construction and decoration have to be teased from documents such as Burbage’s purchase contract for his Blackfriars site and from inferences in surviving playtexts, but these do not offer a ready blueprint for modern reproduction. However, if we cast the net wider and include a broader survey of Jacobean buildings, we come across several examples which contain features similar to those present in an indoor theatre. By investigating the accounts of work undertaken at elite estates such as Hatfield House, or at Whitehall during the construction of the pre-Inigo Jones Banqueting House, we can start more fully to understand the Jacobean building process, and the types of materials and decoration that could have been employed in the construction of a Jacobean Indoor Playhouse. Closer inspection of payments to craftsmen suggest what level of decorative work is appropriate for a building financed by a company of actors, and how a theatre of this time would imitate, if not replicate, elite building styles.

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