Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Burbage came from an acting family and was a popular performer by the age of 20. After the death of his father James Burbage around 1598, Richard and his brother Cuthbert stepped in to rescue the family's interests in two London theatres, then tied up in lawsuits. The Blackfriars Theatre they kept, the other, called simply 'The Theatre' was demolished to make way for a new playhouse: the Globe.
Burbage's acting career included a stint in the Earl of Leicester's company but most famously he was the star of William Shakespeare's theatre company, The Chamberlain's Men which mutated into the King's Men on the accession of James I in 1603. He played the title role in the first performances of many of Shakespeare's plays, including Hamlet, Othello, Richard III and King Lear. But he was in great demand and also appeared in the plays of many of the great contemporary writers, such as Ben Jonson. Some believe that the famous Chandos portrait actually depicts Burbage, rather than Shakespeare but he might also be its creator: he had a strong interest in painting and Dulwich College holds a painting generally regarded as his work in a roughly similiar style.
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