Internet Shakespeare Editions


The inn-yard as theater

The George Inn, London. Photograph Michael Best.

Plays were performed in private houses, in public halls, and especially in inns, which provided not only food and accommodation for the players, but also a yard in which to perform, surrounded by galleries for the spectators.

Some inn-yards were converted into permanent theaters, but in 1574 the City Corporation began to regulate inn-yards. This inconvenience may have led James Burbage to build the first playhouse, the Theatre, to the north of the city limitsin 1576 .

Other theaters were built outside the city, but the inns continued to be used during the winter, when they were more convenient in bad weather. The Chamberlain's Men performed at the Cross Keys in the winter of 1594. However, in 1596 the Privy Council prohibited plays within the City.

More inns...