Burbage, Richard (bûrˈbĭj) [key], 1567?–1619, first great English actor. The leading tragedian of the Chamberlain's Men, he originated the title roles in Shakespeare's Hamlet, Lear, Othello, and Richard III. He may also have appeared in many of the first productions of plays by Thomas Kyd, Beaumont and Fletcher, Ben Jonson, and John Webster. By contemporary standards, his acting style was considered realistic. Burbage's father, James Burbage, had built the first permanent theater in London in 1576, called the Theatre. In 1598 the building was removed to Bankside and set up as the Globe Theatre by Richard's brother, Cuthbert, on the death of their father. The brothers also inherited shares in the Blackfriars Theatre, built by their father in 1596, which became the winter home of the company.
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