What is going to happen
Well... we planned a "fun and frolicky all-day bash" to celebrate the Red Bull Playhouse – a one-time rival to Shakespeare’s Globe! However... replanning became a must (coughs) and our Crypt exhibition event now starts at 3pm. (Please see update.) Not quite the whole day then, but a quality afternoon to evening.
3-5pm: exhibition; 5.30: unveiling by Alexander Armstrong; thereafter, reception for the local community, scholars and students in the Crypt where actors and playwrights of the Red Bull were interred. The guest list looks fabulous. And there is still time till 7.44pm Monday 20th August to donate or gain the reward of attendance for £30. Please do this. It is the theatre history event of a lifetime! And Dr. Griffith needs the dosh.
What was the Red Bull Playhouse?
The Red Bull was built c.1605 – the year of the Gunpowder Plot – and in its time it was a rival to the Globe (built on the other side of the City, south of the River Thames). Shakespeare’s company was the King’s Men; the Red Bull’s was the Queen’s Men, whose patron was Queen Anna of Denmark, an innovative consort queen who brought women performers to courtly England when no woman was allowed to act on the public stage.
My name is Eva Griffith and I am an independent academic specialising in Shakespearean theatre history. In 2013, I wrote a book published by Cambridge University Press about a little-known theatre of Shakespeare’s time – The Red Bull Playhouse – located in Clerkenwell, north London.
Alexander Armstrong. Photo by David Scheinmann
I have long campaigned for a plaque to be erected on the theatre’s original site in Hayward’s Place (London EC1R 0EH), and I am delighted that in partnership with Islington Council this will be happening on Wednesday 29th August. I am also thrilled that the actor Alexander Armstrong, a descendent of Edward Somerset, fourth earl of Worcester (a one-time patron of the Red Bull’s company), has agreed to unveil the plaque.
What you will be funding
In addition to celebrating this longest-lived of the early playhouses, I would like to use the unveiling as an opportunity to engage the local community with its place in early theatre history, as well as students and scholars interested in early modern drama.
I am planning a day-long celebration of the Red Bull Theatre to take place on the day of the unveiling, including an exhibition about the life of the Red Bull with information on the actors, playwrights and personalities important to the venue, 21st-century actors portraying their 17th-century counterparts and a reception where the local community, students and scholars of early modern drama can meet and engage with the Red Bull’s place in theatre history. A short film will be made to remember the event.
The exhibition and celebration will take place in the Crypt of St. James’s Church in the heart of Clerkenwell, which, appropriately enough, was the final resting place of many of the Red Bull’s personnel.
Where will the money go?
- Venue hire and catering for 300 people to attend the reception
- Payment for actors and musicians
- Exhibition panels
- Some filming expenses
Donate or pledge?
You are free to donate any amount to the fund. In addition, we are offering 3 levels of pledge, each giving rewards:
- £30 gives you an invitation to the unveiling reception
- £50 gives you an invitation to the unveiling reception, plus a Red Bull walking tour of Clerkenwell, led by me, at a date to be announced.
- £100 gives you an invitation to the reception, plus the Red Bull walking tour at a date to be announced, PLUS a credit on the film about the Red Bull and event