In or around 1576 James Savage opened a playhouse at Newington Butts about a mile south of the river, near what is now the Elephant and Castle district. Plays were performed there until 1595, and our records tell us that Christopher Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta and William Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus were performed at this mysterious venue. It is certain that the Chamberlain’s Men performed here in June 1594 and this undoubtedly means that other early Shakespeare plays were put on in that month, though playing appears to have ended here the following year. An entry in Philip Henslowe's 'Diary' (the owner of the Rose) shows us that he arranged for both his Admiral's Men and the Chamberlain's Men to put on plays here (on the 3rd to the 13th of June 1594) and this indicates that the entrepeneur must have had some kind of interest in the success of the Newington Butts playhouse, but the precise information has not survived. Indeed, the theatre proved to be located far too south of the river, with playgoers faced with up to half a mile of heavy mud to trek through. This may explain the playhouse's infrequent use and sketchy history.

Contemporary Recollections:

Although Stephen Gosson's Playes Confuted does not mention the Newington Butts theatre in the quotation below, his text is revealing about the culture of playgoing at the time of the early playhouse. As Gosson states:

‘In the playhouses at London, it is the fashion of youths to go first into the yard, and to carry their eye through every gallery, then like ravens, where they spy the carrion thither they fly, and press as near to the fairest as they can... they give them apples, they dally with their garments to pass the time, they minister talk upon odd occasions, and either bring them home to their houses on small acquaintance, or slip into taverns when the plays are done.’