TIRING HOUSE is home to reflections and research on the processes of early modern entertainment from the Alabama Shakespeare Project. ASP is a hub for performance-based research on early theatre and other forms of entertainment from England and across the premodern globe. This blog seeks to offer glimpses of the processes behind play-making, along with the questions they prompt.
Why TIRING HOUSE? The term, a colloquial shortening of attire, refers to “the room or place in which the actors dressed for the stage,” at least in its strictest sense. Specific personnel seem to have accompanied the space and other attached to specific companies, such as the “tirewoman” affiliated with the King’s Revels and or the “tyerman for the companye” playing at the Rose. Attire in these cases may have referred very specifically to making and afixing the elaborate “head-tires” fashionable in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. More broadly it referred to an individual charged with maintaining a company’s or playhouse’s gear, such as specialized props, character-specific costumes, and playbooks.
In all these sense, the tiring house was the workspace for the personnel and the material that made theatre possible. It was the narrow area behind the stage for dressing, storage, and, most importantly, listening; it was from here that players would enter the stage after hearing their cue. This blog aims to invoke all these senses in its name: a place from which we enter the processes, collaborations, and explorations of early modern play.
This blog was begun in September 2021 by two members of the Hudson Strode Program for Renaissance Studies, assistant professor Elizabeth E. Tavares and graduate student Riley S. Stewart. Both currently serve in concert as co-Editors and manage its content. This is made possible by the generous support of the Strode Program and the Department of English at the University of Alabama.
TIRING HOUSE welcomes comments from readers. Comments should respond directly to the contents of the post; comments will be held for moderation, and we reserve the right to delete comments that are off-topic, abusive, or spam. We will not publish any comments which are personal attacks against the author of the post, or against other commenters. In the spirit of collaborative conversation, we also prefer comments to be accompanied by a real name (e.g., Thomas Middleton) or by a regularly used public pseudonym (e.g., Whamlet). Comments from anonymous or fictitious identities will be posted only at the moderator’s discretion.
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Unless otherwise stated, all images seen on TIRING HOUSE are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Images including individuals, such as cast members, have had written consent secured prior to publication. For further information on obtaining written permission to publish any of our images, or how to obtain high-resolution images, contact a member of the editorial team.
Cover image: “This green plot shall be our stage, this hawthorn brake our tiring house.” W. Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (London: T. Fisher, 1600; Yale University Library, STC 22302), Dr.
- “tiring-house, n.,” Oxford English Dictionary Online (Oxford UP, 2021), http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/202471, accessed 29 Sept 2021.
- R. A. Foakes, ed., Henslowe’s Diary (Cambridge UP, 2002), 224.
- R. Dutton, Shakespeare’s Theatre: A History (Wiley Blackwell, 2018), 167–74.