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.


300-word proposals are welcome on topics including but 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.


Please send your proposals for 20 minute papers to and by 1st May 2017, including a 300 word abstract and a brief biography. The programme will be available in June 2017, along with registration details. The event will cost £30.00 including lunch.

Submission date for papers: 
01 May 2017