Tudor theaters featured thatched roofs that were eventually tiled. The basic concept was of an open-air arena known as the "pit" or "yard." They were encircled by three flights of roofed galleries with balconies viewing the rear of the theatre and featured a raised platform at one end. Halfway into the 'pit,' the stage was projected. The audience sat on benches which were usually made of wood but sometimes also of stone. There were no seats: Anybody could be given a role by someone who knew them from past performances.
There were several types of plays performed by early modern theater companies. Tragedies dealt with heroic figures such as kings, princes, and generals. Histories focused on real people who had lived many years ago. Comedies involved ordinary people who surprised themselves by doing unexpected things. Dramatic poems were like comedies except that they included poetic scenes with music between acts. Lyrical dramas were similar to dramatic poems but used language rather than action to tell stories.
The most famous theater company in England was probably William Shakespeare's. He wrote about thirty plays during his lifetime, most of them for the theater. Some historians think he worked for other companies as an actor/manager while others believe he managed several different companies himself. No matter what position he took, Shakespeare is regarded as the greatest playwright in English history.
Other famous writers/performers who worked with theaters include Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, Thomas Middleton, and John Webster.
Since Roman times, the Theatre has been one of England's first playhouses. It was a multi-sided construction with a central, exposed "yard" encircled by three levels of covered seats and a bare, elevated stage at one end of the yard, similar to many other playhouses that followed. The original design for the Theatre is believed to have been created by Inigo Jones; it may have been based on models he had seen in Italy.
The first recorded performance in Britain took place here in 1608, when King James I attended a production of Ben Jonson's comedy The Alchemist. The king was so pleased that he ordered a copy made of the script. The original text is now held by Oxford University Library.
In its day, the Theatre was considered one of the most prestigious venues in Europe. It was known as the Royal Theatre because only royalty were allowed to attend performances which included actors from throughout Europe. Women were not permitted entrance to the theatre; their role in life was assumed to be solely as wives or mistresses to their husbands or lovers. Men could come into contact with women outside of marriage only through servants or slaves, who would often take the place of wives during periods away from home.
The theatre was destroyed by fire in 1731 but was rebuilt within two years. This new Theatre was much grander than the old one and was designed by George Frederick Schembeck, who also designed London's Prince Albert Memorial Theatre.
Most Elizabethan theatres were open-air structures with a high platform that allowed for better viewing from afar. Because lighting was an issue in the days before electricity, most concerts took place in the afternoon. The audience sat in darkness except for when the lights went out of favor after 1642.
The first English theatre was built in 1567 on London's South Bank near where the Royal National Theatre now stands. This was just a few years after William Shakespeare started writing plays around this time. The gallery above the stage allowed everyone in the audience to see and hear what was going on below. At the end of each act, the lead actors would come down off the stage and begin mingling with the audience.
These days, we think of theaters as quiet places where we can enjoy a performance undisturbed by anyone or anything else. But this wasn't always the case - especially not for men. In those days, the theater was the place to be if you were looking for trouble. With its low ceilings, thick walls, and often empty spaces, it was easy to get into fights while drinking too much beer. If you got kicked out of a theater, there were a lot of people who would come along and beat you up until you could no longer fight back.
The first police station in London was built in 1750.