Sunday, June 12, 2022

Question from Amanda - Going to the theater in Tudor times

What was going to the theater like in Tudor/Elizabethan times? Was seeing a play to them the equivalent of a movie theater from today? Did the theaters offer people popcorn? Were women and/or children allowed to even go, or was it just an all adult male audience? Were there any restrooms to go if one needed to in the midst of a show?


  1. Well, popcorn didn't come along until the 19th century, so they certainly weren't snacking on that while watching "Much Ado About Nothing", etc. :) (And corn/maize is a New World crop, but apparently it was starting to be cultivated in Europe by the mid-16th century... I was curious so I looked it up.) But there was food and drink around during plays. I'm going off memories from various visits to Stratford and the Globe, but I want to say that there were people selling bags of snacks like nuts or dried fruit, thinks like that. And ale, of course! I think an outdoor concert or sporting event would be the better comparison than going to the movies today.

    And I'm not sure if there was an age restriction, but both men and women were in the audiences (although women actors on the stage would come along later...).

    1. OMG! I couldn’t believe it was actually you, yourself, but thanks Lara for replying to my question. I will mention, however, that I did some research myself and read that popcorn was actually popped as early as 4,700 B.C.. In fact, fossil evidence from Peru suggests it. So, what do you think Lara?

  2. Oops, I shouldn't have gone off memory about popcorn and double-checked it like I did with the corn/maize part. Regardless, I'm not aware of any documentary or archaeological evidence of popcorn at Elizabethan theaters, while there *is* evidence of nuts, etc. And oysters were apparently popular (and left great archaeological evidence!).


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