Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2007

Capstone Advisor

Christopher Kyle

Honors Reader

Dympna Callaghan

Capstone Major


Capstone College

Arts and Science

Audio/Visual Component


Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories

Social Sciences

Subject Categories

Cultural History | History | Other History


The emergence of plays and the theatre as a commercial industry in Englandpeaked during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. However, during this time numerous laws were passed which threatened the existence of this increasingly popular form of entertainment. The Rise and Fall of Elizabethan Theatre brings together the social, political and economic situations of early modernEngland and highlights the effects each had on the emerging theatre scene.

Through evaluation of primary sources and the works of theatre historians, The Rise and Fall of Elizabethan Theatre attempts to chart the reasons for the mixed reception towards playgoing in Elizabethan England. Analysis of other popular media at the time such as printed matter provides evidence of a flourishing entertainment scene. Indeed, the creation of purpose built theatres as venues for drama was a physical manifestation of the rise in popularity of playgoing. However, this is contrasted with the rise of the anti-theatrical movement which also embraced print as a way to disseminate information.

Social problems such as the threat of plague, public disorder and the stigma attached to being an actor also contributed to the setbacks that affected attendances at plays. Finally, the influence of Puritan beliefs after Elizabeth’s reign led to the most critical event affecting the theatre world in the seventeenth century, the total ban in 1642 on theatrical productions. This final blow to a popular form of entertainment is the nadir of the industry’s rising popularity and its effects are examined by exploring what happened to the playhouses ofLondon.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.



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