This well-known theatre was situated in St. John’s Street on the site of Red Bull Yard. Pepys went there on March 23rd, 1661, when he expressed a very poor opinion of the place. T. Carew, in some commendatory lines on Sir William. Davenant’s play, “The just Italian,” 1630, abuses both audiences and actors:—
There are the men in crowded heaps that throng
To that adulterate stage, where not a tongue
Of th’ untun’d kennel can a line repeat
Of serious sense.
There is a token of this house (see “Boyne’s Trade Tokens,” ed. Williamson, vol. i., 1889, p. 725).
This text comes from a footnote on a diary entry in the 1893 edition edited by Henry B. Wheatley.
Susanna • Link
There is a short history of this playhouse "noted for the vulgarity and obstreperousness of its patrons" from the Encyclopedia Brittanica:
Paul Brewster • Link
"at this time [3 August 1660] used by a troupe headed my Michael Mohun."
"MOHUN, MICHAEL (c. 1625-1684), English actor, played at the Cockpit in Drury Lane before the Civil War. He served on the king's side with credit and was promoted captain, and subsequently, in Flanders, major. At the Restoration he returned with Charles II. and took up his former profession, playing a great variety of parts, usually as second to Charles Hart."
per 1911 Encyclopedia
Glyn • Link
The Red Bull was at 181-183 St John Street, Clerkenwell: north of the junction with Aylesbury Street. Early in the Diary it stages plays but by the middle of the Diary it was holding prizefights instead.
Pauline • Link
"it was holding prizefights instead."
Perhaps following the realization on March 23 1661 that the musique room provided the perfect "arena" in which to stage a fight:
From that day's Diary entry: "in the musique-room the boy that was to sing a song, not singing it right, his master fell about his ears and beat him so, that it put the whole house in an uprore."
Sjoerd • Link
Samuel thought worth mentioning this story about Thomas Killigrew:
"The other, Thos. Killigrew’s way of getting to see plays when he was a boy. He would go to the Red Bull, and when the man cried to the boys, ‘Who will go and be a devil, and he shall see the play for nothing?’ then would he go in, and be a devil upon the stage, and so get to see plays."
The Red Bull shows on the 1746 map where Glyn has it, sc. at 181-183 St John Street, Clerkenwell: northwest of the junction with Aylesbury Street 3/5 east and near the north edge of this segment of the map (south of the White Horse Yard). http://www.motco.com/map/81002/SeriesSearchPlat...
Pedro • Link
Red Bull Yard.
On the map above that Terry mentions you can see Red Bull Yard that was named after the Theatre.
(Book of Days)
Red Bull Theatre stood at the upper end of St. John Street, on what was until recently called "Red Bull Yard," and Woodbridge Street, St John's Street Road. Mr. Payne Collier conjectures that it was originally an inn-yard, converted into a regular theatre late in the reign of Queen Elizabeth.
Prynne speaks of it in 1633 as a theatre that had been "lately reedified and enlarged." It was closed during the plague of 1636-1637.
The King's players, under Killigrew, performed within its walls till a stage in Drury Lane was ready to receive them. "The Red Bull stands empty for fencers, "writes Davenant in 1663; "there are no tenants in it but old spiders."
It was afterwards employed for trials of skill. Mr. Collier possessed a printed challenge and acceptance of a trial at eight several weapons, to be performed betwixt two scholars of Benjamin Dobson and William Wright, masters of the noble science of defence. The trial was to come off " at the Red Bull, at the upper end of St. John's Street, on Whitsun Monday, the 30th of May, 1664, beginning exactly at three of the clock in the afternoon, and the best man is to take all." The weapons were: "back-sword, single rapier, sword and dagger, rapier and dagger, sword and buckler, half pike, sword and gauntlet, single faulchion."
---London, Past and Present. H.B. Wheatley, 1891.
... presently after the Restoration, the King's Players acted publickly at the Red Bull for some time, and then removed to a new-built Playhouse in Vere-Street, by Clare-market. There they continued for a Year or two, and then removed to the Theatre Royal in Drury-lane ...
---An Apology for the Life of Colley Cibber. Colley Cibber, 1750.
The King's Players were Thomas Killegrew's company.
The "Playhouse in Vere-Street" was the King's House (Theatre Royal, Vere St).
The actors who had performed at the Red Bull, acted under the direction of Mr. Killigrew during the years 1660, 1661, 1662, and part of the year 1663, in Gibbon's tennis-court in Vere-street, near Clare-market; during which time a new theatre was built for them in Drury Lane, to which they removed in April 1663. The following list of their stock-plays, in which it is observable there are but three of Shakspeare, was found among the papers of Sir Henry Herbert, and was probably furnished by them soon after the Restoration.
Names of the plays acted by the Red Bull actors.
The Humorous Lieutenant. Elder Brother.
Beggars Bushe. The Silent Woman.
Tamer Tamed. The Weddinge.
The Traytor. Henry the Fourthe.
Loves Cruelty. Merry Wives of Windsor.
Wit without Money. Kinge and no Kinge.
Maydes Tragedy. Othello.
Rollo Duke of Normandy. The Unfortunate Lovers.
Claricilla. The Widow.
---The Plays of William Shakspeare: In Fifteen Volumes. v.2, 1793.
Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.