Lucy Munro*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


While Shakespeares uses of music at the Theatre and Globe playhouses have been the subject of a good deal of scholarly attention, the soundscapes of other outdoor playhouses such as the Curtain, Rose, Boars Head, Fortune, and Red Bull have been largely dismissed or ignored. Yet from Robert Greene in the late 1580s and early 1590s, to plays written specifically for the outdoor playhouses in the 1620s, to Richard Brome at the Globe and Red Bull in the 1630s, the outdoor playhouses presented varied and often markedly experimental soundscapes. This chapter examines the musical traditions of the outdoor playhouses in detail for the first time, offering a new perspective on Shakespeares musical practice. It surveys the period between the construction of the outdoor Red Lion playhouse in 1567 and the acquisition of the indoor Blackfriars by Shakespeares company, the Kings Men, paying particular attention to the late 1580s and 1590s, the years during which Shakespeare established himself as a dramatist. Looking at song and instrumental music, it draws on the histories of the playhouses, playing companies and individual actor-musicians, contemporary commentaries, and a range of plays and jigs, paying particular attention to the work of Robert Wilson, Robert Greene, Thomas Dekker, and William Kemp. It argues first that Shakespeares early musical practices are in line with those of other playwrights working for outdoor playhouses, and second that the musical traditions of those playhouses are more wide-ranging, original, and inventive than scholars have generally recognized.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare and Music
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9780190945145
ISBN (Print)9780190498788
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022


  • jig
  • musical settings
  • play songs
  • playhouse
  • Robert Greene
  • Robert Wilson
  • Thomas Dekker
  • William Kemp
  • William Shakespeare


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