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Whitefriars Theatre Playhouse

Picture of Theatre Playhouse

Picture of Theatre Playhouse

Whitefriars Playhouse
The Whitefriars Theatre was located in the priory of the Whitefriars Carmelite monastery on the north side of the River Thames (named after the colour of the monk's, or friars, habits). The theatrical entrepreneurs Michael Drayton and Thomas Woodford converted the refectory hall into a private theatre in 1606 following the success of the Blackfriars Playhouse. 

London's private playhouses were often used by companies of child actors.Children of the King's Revels occupied it from 1608 to 1609, succeeded by Children of the Queen's Revels from 1609 to 1613. In the latter year the Queen's Revels merged with an adult company, Lady Elizabeth's Men, and in 1614 the combined troupe moved to the Hope Theatre.  By 1629 the Whitefriars was replaced by the Salisbury Court Theatre Playhouse.

The Whitefriars Theatre
In 1538 the Carmelite monastery of Whitefriars was closed due to the dissolution of the monasteries by King Henry VIII. The monastery estates, which consisted of many different buildings on a vast area of land, were divided up and sold or leased. During the Elizabethan era the young boy members of the choirs were also encouraged to participate in drama. These troupes were called Children's companies. These children doubled as child actors and the buildings were used for play rehearsals and private performances. The Childrens company was originally called the Children of the King's Revels.

The Whitefriars Playhouse Indoor Elizabethan Playhouse Theatre
The known facts about the Whitefriars Playhouse indoor Playhouse, which was used as one of the venues for English Elizabethan Theatre, are as follows:

  • London Location of the Whitefriars Playhouse indoor Playhouse - A precinct or liberty comprising the site of the former House of Carmelite or White Friars on the south side of Fleet Street between Bridewell and the Temple
  • The Whitefriars Playhouse indoor Playhouse was opened in 1606
  • The famous people associated with the Whitefriars Playhouse indoor Playhouse were Michael Drayton and Thomas Woodford

Interesting Facts and Information about Elizabethan Playhouses
The following interesting facts about the Elizabethan indoor playhouses, such as Whitefriars Playhouse, provide an insight into the development of the modern theatre:

  • Elizabethan playhouses, such as Whitefriars Playhouse, provided indoor venues for the production of Elizabethan plays
  • The venues were smaller and roofed
  • Suitable for winter and evening productions
  • Admittance to the Playhouses were more expensive than the other types of Elizabethan theatres
  • Attending a public theater performance would cost between 1 to 3 pennies, but admission to a private, indoor, theatre cost between 2 to 26 pennies
  • Indoor Playhouses were no so much private but exclusive - the cost prohibited the attendance of most common folk
  • Everyone in the private theatre audience was given a seat - the higher the price of admission, the more comfortable the seat was
  • The Audience capacity was up to 500 people
  • The Playhouses were more comfortable and luxurious than other theatres
  • The Great Halls in existing, prestigious, buildings were used as playhouses and venues for plays
  • The indoor Playhouses were lighted by candles so performances could be staged in the evening
  • The use of candles led to the introduction of intervals when burnt down candles were replaced
  • Food and drink was served, or sold, during the intervals
  • Music and songs was strongly featured - the acoustics of indoor theatres, such as Whitefriars Playhouse Playhouse, lent themselves to this effect
  • Beautiful scenery were introduced - as this was not open to the open air elements this could be re-used over and over again
  • Costumes tended to be quite sumptuous
  • The plays were selected to suit the indoor venues - the emphasis was on the words of the play rather than noisy special effects

Whitefriars Playhouse - An Indoor Elizabethan Playhouse
The information and facts regarding the development of indoor Elizabethan playhouses, such as Whitefriars Playhouse, provide an interesting insight into the development of the modern theatre.

Elizabethan Theatre
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