Bowling Alleys and Playhouses in London, 1560-90
Recreational and domestic alleys provide a useful paradigm for understanding the construction of long-standing commercial stages in the 1560s and 1570s, and they provide essential and overlooked contexts that situate playhouses within the wider leisure ecology of Elizabethan London. Bowling alleys’ construction, reception, and activity present striking similarities with multipurpose theatre buildings, and they lay down models not only for those managing recreational space but also for those in opposition to it. They help supply the vocabulary of recreational enterprise later attached to theatrical playing spaces and lay foundations—in all senses—for the development of London’s theatre industry itself.
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