The cross keys inn was one of the most popular sites for the enactment of plays during the Elizabethan era. The period between 1558 and 1603 is known as the Elizabethan era. It was the time when Queen Elizabeth reigned in England, and co incidentally it was also a golden era in the field of art and literature.
William Shakespeare was among the many playwrights who produced some of the greatest works of art which is still remembered and cherished by millions across the globe.
Those plays which come in the category of Elizabethan theatre where then enacted in different types of venues, the most common being the inn yards. Amphitheatres came into existence a little while later but because they were open air they were never used during winter when only playhouses were used.
Elizabethan Cross Keys Inn Theatre
At that point of time the perfect venue for the Elizabethan theatre troupes to stage their plays was the cobble stoned yards which was inevitably present in all the inns because then the only means of transportation of the people was riding on horseback.
These yards had balconies on their sides which eventually open into the rooms of the lodgers and in this way these inn yards developed into the venues of the Elizabethan plays and came to be known as Elizabethan yards.
The Cross keys inn theatre was one such site where the Elizabethan drama was performed. It is located at Gracechurch Street in London and it was in use during the years between 1576 and 1594 when the Elizabethan theatre was at its peak. The very own troupe of Shakespeare known as the Chamberlain’s men used to give regular performances at the cross keys inn.
There was a time in history when even they would negotiate with the person who owned the cross keys inn to talk him into letting them perform in its courtyard. It had a seating capacity of mere five hundred people and a temporary stage would be built in order to stage the play.
The people would have to pay a minimal amount to see the play from the courtyard itself and a slightly bigger amount if they wanted a better view which could be got from the balconies which surrounded the inn yard.
Slowly the use of these inn yards were stopped as modern theatre came into being but we can never forget the contribution of the Elizabethan inn yards and especially the cross keys inn to modern theatre.