Henry Lanman was also the Curtain theatre's manager until 1592. A number of companies performed at the theater including the Chamberlain's Men (William Shakespeare was known to have played at the theater whist his acting troupe was waiting for the Globe to be built). The Curtain amphitheatre was in use from 1577 to 1622 when it was closed by order of the Puritans.
The Curtain Amphitheatre - Elizabethan Theatre
The known facts about the Curtain, which was used as one of the massive amphitheatre venues for early English Elizabethan Theatre, are as follows:
- London Location of the Curtain - Curtain Close, Finsbury Fields, Shoreditch, London
- The Curtain was opened in 1577
- The theatrical entrepreneur involved with the Curtain was Henry Lanman
- The Curtain was one of the 12 massive amphitheatres, including the Globe Theatre, which were built around the City of London
In 1574 the City of London started regulating the Inn-yard activities. The Theatrical entrepreneurs fought back and started to build purpose built wooden theatres such as the Curtain. It was styled on the open air Roman amphitheatres providing a classical connection and an air of respectability to the Theatrical profession. The Curtain was extremely quick to build, approximately 6 months, requiring only cheap building materials it therefore increased profits for the theatre at least five-fold.
Description of The Theatre amphitheatre
The Curtain was described as an Elizabethan Amphitheatre which was octagonal or circular in shape having between 8 and 24 sides. The open air arena of the amphitheatre was called the 'pit' or the 'yard'. The stage of the amphitheatre projected halfway into the 'pit'. The Curtain had a raised stage at one end which was surrounded by three tiers of roofed galleries with balconies overlooking the back of the stage.
Facts and Information about the Amphitheatre styled Elizabethan Theatres
Interesting general facts and information about the amphitheatre venue such as the Curtain:
- Audience capacity of an Elizabethan amphitheatre was between 1500 and 3000
- Building materials used in the construction of early Elizabethan Theatres were timber, nails, stone (flint), plaster with thatched roofs
- The 'Box ' and the 'Box Office' - Playgoers put 1 penny in a box at the Elizabethan theatre entrance. At the start of the play the admission collectors put the boxes in a room backstage called the box office.
- The Entrance to the theatre - Usually one main entrance. Some later theatres had external staircases to access the galleries
- The owners of the theatre were called the 'Housekeepers'
- There was no heating in the Elizabethan Theatre. Plays were performed in the summer months and transferred to the indoor playhouses during the winter
- Lighting 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
- Toilet Facilities? None . People relieved themselves outside. Sewage was buried in pits or disposed of in the River Thames
- Size of Elizabethan Theatre - Up to 100 feet in diameter
- Shapes of the Elizabethan Theatres - Circular or Octagonal in shape having between 8 and 24 sides
- The height of the raised stage was 3 to 5 feet and supported by large pillars or trestles
- Stage dimensions varied from 20 foot wide 15 foot deep to 45 feet to 30 feet
- Only very rich women, who often wore masks, or women of dubious morals attended the amphitheatres
- Musicians - Music was an extra effect added in the 1600's
- A selection of ropes & rigging would allow for special effects, such as flying or dramatic entries
- The floor of the Stage was made of wood, sometimes covered with rushes. Trap doors in the floor would enable some additional special effects such as smoke
The Curtain was used as a venue for Elizabethan plays, replacing the Inn-yard venues. The purpose built Elizabethan Amphitheatres in London such as the Curtain were used during the summer months and transferred to the indoor playhouses during the winter.