Before Shakespeare:
Before Shakespeare:  The Beginnings of London Commercial Theatre, c. 1565-1595

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the first English playhouses

What happens when we think twice about the beginnings of playhouses? We champion an expansive and collaborative theatre history…

The Beginnings of London Commercial Theatre, c. 1565-1595

How and why did the public playhouses come to open in London in the sixteenth century? Were these playhouses the first purpose-built, regular spaces for performance in Europe since the Roman Empire, and what might this mean?

Our team are continuously working on our archive of resources and blog posts as well as planning events around the Before Shakespeare project. Here are our most recent additions.

Meet Our Team


The Sound of Lyly: Galatea Interview

We recently had a chance to interview Vicky Abbott, the musical lead on Emma Frankland’s Galatea project, and we asked her what it was like writing music for a sixteenth-century play in a modern production.



Blog Posts and Pitches Welcome

We’re keen to keep this site lively and fresh with some of the latest thoughts and research–either road-testing ideas and works-in-progress or sharing some insights–from early theatre and performance. Content from doctoral researchers and early career colleagues are especially welcome, as well as from performers and practitioners!



Galatea Production Announced!

We’re incredibly excited to be presenting the world premiere of Emma Frankland’s Galatea, commissioned by and as part of Brighton Festival, from the 5-21 May, 2023.



Galatea Funding News: Diverse Alarums and Postdoctoral Opportunity

We are thrilled to announce that the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council have funded a new project, “Diverse Alarums: centering marginalised communities in the contemporary performance of early modern plays,” with a new postdoctoral position.

Box Office Bears

Archaeology, archives, performance

Box Office Bears

Join us to discover more about historical bears and dogs.

Our sister site Box Office Bears explores the widespread, surprising, and sometimes alarming recreational interactions between humans and animals in Shakespeare’s time.