Shakespeare and the Blackfriars Theatre

Picture of the Blackfriars Theatre

The Biography of William Shakespeare

  • The King's Men buy the Blackfriars Theatre
  • Why buy a Playhouse?
  • When was the Blackfriars theatre used?
  • Audiences? Performances?
  • Interesting information about the family, life and times of William Shakespeare


  • During the Elizabethan era there were three different venues for Elizabethan plays:
    • The Inn-yard
      • The original play venue! Large taverns and inns showed plays in their yards! These inn-yards were surrounded by balconies which led to the lodgings for travellers
    • The Open air Amphitheatre
      • Like the Globe Theatre - used during the summer months - audience capacity up to 1500
    • The Playhouse
      • Like the Blackfriars theatre - an indoor theatre, more expensive, suitable for more select audiences but open to anyone - audience capacity up to 700
  • The building, with its large hall, was located in the City of London on the site of the dissolved 13th-century Dominican monastery where the Dominican monks wore black robes - hence the name Black Friars
  • In 1538 the monastery was closed due to the Dissolution of the Monasteries by King Henry VIII and the building was subsequently used by the Privy Council
  • Blackfriars was the location of many historic events, such as the divorce hearing of Catherine of Aragon (1485-1536) and King Henry VIII (1491-1547) in 1529
  • A troupe of boy actors called the 'Chapel Children' first used Blackfriars as a Playhouse
  • Blackfriars was purchased by Burbage for £600 in 1596 but was not able to use it as a theatre due to objections from local residents and City of London officials until 1608 see Public plays banned in City of London
  • The picture at the top of the page of the Blackfriars Playhouse theatre illustrates what the Playhouse looked like


  • The premises at Blackfriars was well equipped with artificial lighting and other amenities
  • Burbage made alterations and improvements to the Playhouse and was able to present various special effects due to its trap doors and wires and belts used to hang props and lower actors. The troupe performed at Blackfriars during the winter months while continuing to spend the summers at the Globe
  • The cheapest tickets were 2d, double the cost at the Globe
  • The Blackfriars Playhouse was a great success! the acting troupe had a permanent base for their winter productions. The profits increased! The actors and owners became richer!
  • The King’s Men acting company used Blackfriars until 1642 when it was closed during the English Civil War
  • The Blackfriars playhouse fell into disrepair and was eventually demolished on the 6th of August, 1655

William Shakespeare Index

Privacy Statement

Cookie Policy

© 2015 Siteseen Ltd