The West Midland Circuit and the New Theatre

  • 16 Jan 2012
  • Theatre
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The strolling players moving from place to place, gradually began to travel in regular circuits. They usually lived a life of vagabondage and degradation, often in terror of the law, and by stress  of circumstances, driven to meannesses and dishonesty. Yet it is from these sources that English drama sprang.

During the 18th century the people of England depended on these strolling players for their theatrical amusement, but apart from London, few places had a purpose-built theatre. Usually it was a converted barn or a similarly improvised building.  It seems however, that a new and rival theatre was opened in High Street in 1764. It was styled 'The New Theatre', and surprisingly, it was in the Golden Lion Yard, just two doors away from the old theatre.

There seems no doublt that it was a rival theatre and not the old one in a new guise, for notices of the King's Head Theatre and of the New Theatre at the Golden Lion appear in the press at the same time. In Berrow's Worcester Journal of April 19, 1764, it was announced:

'At the New Theatre in the Golden Lion Yard:
The Tender Husband,
and a Pantomime Entertainment called The Witches.
The scenery, machinery and all decorations proper
for the same entirely new'.

Again on January 30, 1766: by the Phillips Company:
'At the New Theatre in the Golden Lion Yard:
All in the Wrong, also
a Farce, The Old Maid'

The New Theatre appears to have lasted only a couple of years or so, for as far as is known, no advertisement for the New Theatre appears after 1766.