Until reccently the history of the english theatre has been build around actors rather then companies. It was hard to find any London theatre that even had a consistent policy. There is no permanent staff in British theatres. A play is rehearsed for a few weeks by a company of actors working together mostly for the first time and it is allowed to run as long as it draws the odious and pays it’s way.
Another peculiarity of the theatres in Great Britain is as follows: there are two kinds of seats, which can be booked in advance (bookable), and unbookable ones have no numbers and the spectators occupy them on the principle: first come – first served. In ancient times plays were acted inside churches and later on the market places.
The first theatre in England “The Blackfries” was built in 1576, and “The Globe”, which is closely connected with William Shakespeare, was built in 1599. Speaking about our times we should first of all mention “The English National theatre”,”The Royal Shakespeare company” and “Covent Garden”.
“Covent Garden” used to be a fashionable promenade – it was, before then, a convent garden – but when it became overrun with flower-sellers, orange-vendors and vegetable-growers, the people moved to more exclusive surroundings farther west, such as “St. Jame’s Square”.
The first “Covent Garden theatre” was built in 1732. It was burnt down in 1808 and rebuilt exactly a year after. It opened in September 1809, with Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”. Since the middle of the last century “Covent Garden” became exclusively devoted to opera.
Now “Covent Garden” is busier than ever, it is one of the few well-known opera houses open for 11 months of the year and it employs over 600 people from both the Opera company and the Royal Ballet.