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date: 21 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

In 1617, the Servants of Queen Anne, the resident theatrical troupe who had enjoyed over a decade playing at the Red Bull, a large amphitheatre-style theatre erected in what had previously been an inn in the north-west suburb of Clerkenwell, moved to the Cockpit, a significantly more intimate and highbrow private theatre in Drury Lane. Many in the community, including many whom were assumed to be frequent playgoers, reacted violently and vociferously. Rioters gathered at the Fortune, another theater in nearby Finsbury, and moved to the Cockpit with a clear design to cause damage to the newly occupied playhouse. What can this highly violent altercation tell us about the Red Bull playhouse, the plays performed there, and its place within the broader London theatrical industry? As the actions of the rioters suggest, Red Bull audiences were remarkably loyal, making that theatre one of the most popular and most notorious playhouses in early modern London until their closure in 1642 and even beyond into the Restoration.

Keywords: Red Bull, rioters, audiences, theatre, London, playhouses, Cockpit, Servants of Queen Anne

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