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Blackfriars, London

Twelfth Night performed by The Royal Shakespeare Company
"Twelfth Night" performed by
The Royal Shakespeare Company
Blackfriars was a fashionable district on the north side of the Thames, close to St Paul's Cathedral. Blackfriars, having real stone-paved streets, and a noticeable absence of mud, was a more desirable location for theatre-goers in London's cold, hard winters.

The neighborhood was also home to The Royal Wardrobe, The Master of The Revels, some court officials and the Royal Treasurer. More than a few of the locals were very unhappy when Shakespeare's company took up their winter residence in Blackfriars Monastery. The influx of reveling audiences during the winter months were said to last "from one or two of the clock till six at night", so that "inhabitants cannot come to their houses, nor bring in their necessary provisions... without danger of their lives and limbs."

The Blackfriars Monastery itself, which had ceased to function as a monastery under the reign of Henry VIII, filled a 125-yard-square plot and had been divided up and leased out by property developers.

Shakespeare's indoor theatre was housed in the monastery's former fratery, and occupied a space 46 feet by 66 feet. This intimate, and enclosed, setting allowed the company to use music and lighting effects for the first time.

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