In 1592 Shakespeare's first history play was performed at the Rose Theatre in London. He was writing for a troupe of players called Strange’s Men, who took their name from their sponsor, Ferdinando Stanley, Lord Strange, who was to become the Fifth Earl of Derby.
Later the same year plague struck in the capital. Strange’s Men fled north to the ancestral seat of their patron, Knowsley Hall, a few miles from Liverpool. Shakespeare would begin to write Richard III and Titus Andronicus for Strange’s Men and The Taming of the Shrew and Love’s Labour’s Lost to honour his patron. Later he would write A Midsummer Night’s Dream to mark the wedding of the Sixth Earl of Derby, William.
Those who lived at Knowsley Hall were not the only ones to reap the benefits. A few miles away on the edge of the estate’s deer park, in the market town of Prescot, the first Elizabethan indoor theatre in Britain was built. This structure, a hugely significant development in the evolution of drama, was simply called The Playhouse.