Repertory and riot: The relocation of plays from the Red Bull to the Cockpit stage
On Shrove Tuesday of 1617 the newly built Cockpit playhouse was attacked by a band of ‘lewde and loose persons, apprentices and others’. The uprising has been interpreted as a powerful expression of audience demand: the Red Bull audience’s response to the transfer of their plays to a prohibitively expensive hall playhouse. This article explores the centrality of the riot to repertory-motivated readings of the Red Bull, examining the connection in criticism between audience preference and repertory. At the same time, it provides a reassessment of the historical circumstances of the riot, and re-examines the evidence to offer it context beyond theatre-historical interpretations. I argue that reading the 1617 riot in terms of repertory management and audience satisfaction is not as inevitable as it has previously appeared, and suggest the need for repertory approaches that go further to recognise the successful relocation of plays across theatre spaces and audiences.
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