Model of the auditorium of the Empire Theatre, Leicester Square, London. Circa 1915 Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Museum number: S.77:1, 2-2008, Link (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
England has become famous for their superb theater districts, but it hasn’t always been that way. The history of English Renaissance Theater began in 1567, with the Red Lion Theater in Whitechapel . It was here that royalty and commoners found a passion for the arts that would stand the test of time. If you are looking for more information about going to a theater in England check out Theater Breaks.
History of London Theater
Because there was so much diversity in the plays, it appealed to a wide variety of people making a night at the theater a cultural attraction and not a social status. This was the one place where the wealthy and commoners came together and forgot about social standings. Every type of play was acceptable from comedy to tragedy; the only thing that was off limits was attacking the king or queen.The first major change in English theater occurred in 1572, when as a precautionary measure against the plague, the Mayor and Corporation of London banned all public theaters from London. After being formally expelled in 1575, public and private theaters were constructed outside the jurisdiction of London.The private theaters had new plays and dramas written for them while the public theaters often reformed the older plays. Socialites and upper-classmen preferred the private theaters while the working class became partial to the public theaters; this is what ultimately caused the segregation between the classes.The rising of the Puritan movement and their gaining control in the England Civil War became the second downfall of theaters in England. The Puritans felt that any form of “entertaining” was a sin, so on September 2, 1642 all theaters were ordered to be closed permanently. It was not until the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, that theaters were re-opened.When the troupes took to the stage again they had to perform many of the previous plays because no new plays had been written. The actors found a way to make the plays “new” again by twists, turns and a new sense of humor. This is how “restoration comedy and spectacle” came about. Another major part of the restoration was the audiences desire to have less dialogue and more theatrics such as costumes and props.
Still, hundreds of years later, going out for dinner and a play is just as popular in England as it was back then. Even though the storylines in some of the plays might have changed, one thing has never changed and that’s the prestigious feeling you will get from enjoying part of London’s history from the Dress Circle of the theater. So when you are in the UK and you see a theater you are more then just getting a show you are getting part of the history.
To see what shows are getting played today in London click here. London Theatre
Sixt in the UK
If you are looking for a ride to the theater you can get a chaffuer driver very easily with Sixt car hire. This is great because you do not have to worry about parking and you will be able to get dropped off at the door and be able to be picked up right up front when the play is over. Think of Sixt when you think of theater transportation.