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Tudor Minute March 13, 1619: Richard Burbage Dies

Hey, this is Heather from the Renaissance English History Podcast, and this is your Tudor Minute for March 13.

Today in 1619 Richard Burbage died. He was a founding father of the Elizabethan Theater, the most famous actor of his time. But he was also an entrepreneur, owning theaters, and a painter. He was the son of James Burbage, who founded the first Theater in London. Very little is known about his early acting career, though it’s possible he was with the Earl of Leicester’s company. He is best known for his roles in Shakespeare’s plays – he acted the parts of Hamlet, Othello, Richard III, and King Lear. But he was also in plays written by other playwrights, including Ben Johnson.

He was the first celebrity actor, and was a huge draw for the theater crowds. From the period between 1580-1610 – the height of Elizabethan drama – there were only 20 roles for an actor who had over 800 lines. Edward Alleyn was the first English actor to act in a role with this many lines – in Marlowe’s Tambourine. But 13 of the 20 roles with over 800 lines were written for Burbage.

That’s your Tudor Minute for today. Remember you can dive deeper into life in 16th century England through the Renaissance English History Podcast at englandcast.com where there are episodes on the Elizabethan Theater.

Links:

Elizabethan Theater episodes:
Episode 046: Other Important Elizabethan Theater People Besides Shakespere