Category:James Burbage

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James Burbage may accurately be called the father of the early modern English playhouse. He was part of the project known as the Red Lion in 1567, but most famously with the Theater in Shoreditch in 1576.

Early Life

James Burbage was born in London c. 1531 in St. Stephen's Coleman Street, and he was a joiner by trade (Ingram, "Early Career," p. 21). He married Ellen Brayne (whose family also lived in St. Stephen's) on the 23rd of April 1559, and they had several children, the most well known of whom to theater historians are Cuthbert (1565-1636) and Richard (1568-1619). James and his brother-in-law John Brayne (a member of the Grocers),were engaged in some manner in an enterprise called the Red Lion in 1567. For reasons not explicit in surviving documents, Burbage and Brayne followed the Red Lion engagement in 1576 to partner in the building of a playhouse, the Theater. Ingram conjectures that the Red Lion experience led the men to believe "that there was a substantial audience ready to support such a playing establishment; and" that the location of the Red Lion "was the wrong place for such an enterprise" ("Early Career," p. 34).

The Theater

Leicester's Men

Playhouse Owner

1635, son, Cuthbert, testified to his father's role (Sharers' Papers)

Works Cited

Berry, Herbert. "Part Three: Playhouses, 1560-1660." In English Professional Theatre, 1530–1660. Ed. Glynne Wickham, Herbert Berry, and William Ingram. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2000. 15–149.
Eccles, Mark. "Elizabethan Actors I: A-D," Notes and Queries 236.1 (1991): 38-48.
Ingram, William, "The Early Career of James Burbage," The Elizabethan Theatre X (Port Credit, Ontario, 1988), 18-36.
———. The Business of Playing. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1992.
Nungezer, Edwin. A Dictionary of Actors. New York: Greenwood Press, 1968 (orig. Yale University Press, 1929).


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