Jacobs Well Theatre

Bristol, United Kingdom

Jacobs Well Theatre

The Jacobs Well Theatre was a playhouse in Cliftonwood, Bristol, England, which opened in 1729. It took its name from the nearby Jacobs's Well, which may have been a mikveh, a type of Jewish ritual bath. The theatre was built by actor John Hippisley, who had created the character of Peachum in the premiere of John Gay's Beggar's Opera. The stage space was so small that actors exiting on one side had to walk around the building to re-enter on the other side, often being subject to banter by spectators enjoying this free show. A hole was knocked through a party wall to an adjacent ale house, The Malt Shovel, so that actors, and audience seated on the stage, could obtain refreshments. Admission prices ranged from 1 shilling to 3 shillings, and it was estimated that a full house could earn as much as £80. Servants of patrons were admitted free of charge to an upper gallery. In later years, Thomas Chatterton described the theatre as a "hut".


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