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Theaters in London

Shakespeare for Kids

Going to the theater was a very popular form of entertainment in London. Rich and poor, old and young, male and female people from all kinds of backgrounds and all walks of life went to see plays.


Theaters could hold between a few hundred to several thousand people. Many theaters were built in Southwarke, or the area just outside of London south of the river Thames. Some theaters were made from buildings that used to be a part of monasteries or churches; after Henry VIII closed many of England's monasteries, the empty buildings were made into theaters. The Blackfriars Theatre founded by actor James Burbage was one theater that used to be a part of a London monastery.


Although women went to the theater as members of the audience, there were no professional actresses in England until the 1660s. Margaret Hughes and Nell Gwynn became some of England's first actresses, and two of the most famous.



Claes Jansz. Visscher. London. ca. 1625 (Detail).

William More. Bargain and sale of seven upper rooms in the Blackfriars to James Burbage. Manuscript, 4 February 1595/96

Just for Kids

Can you find the Globe Theatre in the map of London on this page?

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