The Cockpit-Phoenix in Drury Lane: a symposium

Event Date: 
09 Sep 2017

London Metropolitan Archives (LMA), 40 Northampton Road, London EC1


Date: 9th September 2017; Time: 10-4pm


Led by: Dr Rebecca Bailey (Liverpool John Moores University) and Dr Eva Griffith (independent scholar & early theatre historian)



Organised to coincide with ‘Life on the London Stage’, an exhibition at the LMA, this symposium will mark the 400th anniversary year of a famous riot at this, the first playhouse in Drury Lane. The history of the ‘West End’ is variously told but rarely begins with consideration of the Cockpit, an indoor theatre built for Queen Anna’s men by their actor-manager Christopher Beeston. Despite obvious initial troubles, with Beeston renaming it ‘the Phoenix’ after the Shrovetide attack of 1617, this venue successfully produced drama from old repertoires while welcoming the new too – with Thomas Heywood as representative on the one hand and James Shirley on the other.


Topics will include, but are not limited to:

  • Seventeenth-century indoor playhouses
  • Theatre designs of the Inigo Jones’ school
  • Company/actor histories and early indoor playhouses
  • Land scholarship and the Cockpit playhouse
  • The early history of the West End/Drury Lane
  • Repertoire history and the Cockpit-Phoenix
  • The drama patronage of consort queens
  • The later drama of Thomas Heywood
  • The plays of James Shirley
  • Thomas Killigrew and the Cockpit Phoenix
  • The Cockpit and staging
  • Restoration drama and the Cockpit-Phoenix repertoires


A performance element will be included for the day. Confirmed speakers include Professor Elspeth Graham, a director of the Shakespeare North Trust and Patrick Spottiswoode, Director of Globe Education, Shakespeare’s Globe.


Postgraduates and Early Career Researchers wishing to attend should apply for a bursary through email application to and, stating their research interests.


The event will cost £30.00 including lunch.




9.45-10am Registration/pack collection

10am Eva Griffith, ‘Christopher Beeston and the Cockpit in documents’. An Intro- ductory talk using documents in the Huntley Room.

10.25 Rebecca Bailey (Liverpool John Moores University) ‘James Shirley and the Cockpit-Phoenix stage’

10.50 Short break to view documents

11.05 Lucy Munro (King’s College, London), ‘Queen Henrietta Maria’s Theatrical Patronage Revisited’

11.25 Eoin Price (Swansea University), ‘Reviving Failure at the Caroline Cock- pit’ (The Knight of the Burning Pestle)

12.00 ‘Life on the London Stage’ exhibition tour with LMA introduction

12.20 Christopher Matusiak (Ithaca College, New York), ‘The Cockpit at War, 1642- 1656’

12.40 Stephen Watkins (University of Southampton), ‘Davenant at the Cockpit’

1pm-2pm Lunch

2-3pm The Cockpit in Performance, with actors led by Jason Morell

3-3.20pm Elspeth Graham (Liverpool John Moores University), ‘Introducing Shake- speare North’

3.20-4pm Round table discussion: ‘Recent Theatre History, Theatre History, Archaeolo- gy and Architecture. 'Including Peter McCurdy (builder of the Sam Wanamaker) Patrick Spottiswoode (Shakespeare's Globe Education), Julia Merritt (University of Nottingham) and Paul McGarrity (Museum of London Archaeology)

Submission date for papers: 
01 May 2017
PDF icon Flyer297.31 KB