BURBAGE, JAMES (d. 1597), English actor, is said to have been born at Stratford-on-Avon. He was a member of the earl of Leicester's players, probably for several years before he is first mentioned (1574) as being at the head of the company. In 1576, having secured the lease of land at Shoreditch, Burbage erected there the successful house which was known for twenty years as The Theatre from the fact that it was the first ever erected in London. He seems also to have been concerned in the erection of a second theatre in the same locality, the Curtain, and later, in spite of all difficulties and a great deal of local opposition, he started what became the most celebrated home of the rising drama--the Blackfriars theatre, built in 1596 near the old Dominican friary.
His son, Richard Burbage (c. 1567-1619), more celebrated than his father, was the Garrick of the Elizabethan stage and acted all the great parts in Shakespeare's plays.
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