Tag Archives: The Theatre

On this day in 1619 – Richard Burbage died

Richard Burbage was the son of businessman John Burbage and born in 1567. Not much is known about Burbage’s early life or career as an actor but we can assume that it was likely he acted in both the Admiral’s Men and Lord Strange’s Men as they regularly performed in his father’s theatre in the early 1590’s. We know that Burbage performed with the Lord Chamberlain’s Men and remained with them after they became the King’s Men and beyond. He would have performed many times in front of Queen Elizabeth I and King James I.

Upon the death of his father, James, Richard and his brother Cuthbert took over running the two family theatres; Blackfriars Theatre and The Theatre. Blackfriars was leased out to new tenants and the income they received from that helped them dismantle The Theatre after their land lease ran out and transport it across the Thames to build a new theatre called the Globe Theatre (see wp.me/p5LWKn-j for more information).

The Burbage’s along with William Shakespeare and three other men bought back the lease on the Blackfriars Theatre in 1608 after their tenants could no longer make the payments each month. They turned it into an indoor theatre for the King’s Men for use when the Globe was not a suitable venue or if they were commissioned to perform for a private audience.

Richard Burbage was the lead actor for the majority of William Shakespeare’s plays playing iconic roles such as Hamlet, Othello and King Lear. Burbage continued performing until he died on 13th March 1619. He was buried in St Leonard’s church in Shoreditch, unfortunately his grave location is now lost.

Richard Burbage

On this day in 1597 – The lease for the Globe Theatre is signed by the shareholders

In 1597 Giles Allen refused to renew the lease on the land where The Theatre stood, home to the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. Over Christmas 1597 the Burbages dismantled The Theatre and stored it on the north bank of the Thames.

In order to raise the funds to lease new ground to rebuild their theatre they offered five members of the acting company the chance to become shareholders at the cost of £10 each. One of these five was William Shakespeare. The land chosen was south of the River Thames in Southwark and was renamed The Globe Theatre. The Globe opened in 1599, most likely with Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Shakespeare was to be their resident writer but the Lord Chamberlain’s Men also performed works by Ben Johnson, John Fletcher and Thomas Dekker.

On 29th June 1613 during a performance of Shakespeare’s Henry VIII a fire, caused by cannon fire, set the theatre alight and burnt it to the ground. A second Globe Theatre was quickly built over the foundations of the previous building and opened the following year. However, Puritans closed all theatres in 1642 and the theatre was most likely demolished in 1644.

A modern reconstruction of The Globe opened in 1997, 750 feet away from the original site and it was built based upon all existing evidence of the original building. 101_2124