Bartholomew Fair is a city comedy written by Ben Jonson. It was performed for the first time for a public audience at the Hope Playhouse on 31 October 1614; the following day, 1 November 1614, it was performed at Whitehall in front of King James I and the rest of his Court. This play is heavily invested in the significance of its local urban environment and regularly makes use of locations as signifiers. Marston comments that “in this most localised of comedies, where the playhouse becomes the world outside, Jonson breaks down the distinction between audience and actor, between the observation of the play and the inhabitation of the city, and he draws an analogy between the activities of the playhouse and the interpretation of the urban environment” (98).
The title of this play refers to the annual cloth fair held on August 24, in the courtyard of the church of St. Bartholomew, in Smithfield.
The full text of the play can be found here.