The Tudor Period (1485-1558), encompassing the reigns of Henry VII through Mary I and ending as Elizabeth ascended, was a wide ranging era in both the realms of politics and theatre. As a result "All that is most characteristic in the development of the English theatre falls easily within the one hundred and eighteen years [including the reign of Elizabeth 1558-1603] of [the Tudor's] dominion" writes Tucker Brooke in his book Tudor Drama: A History of English National Drama to the Retirement of Shakespeare.
From here we begin by reducing our focus to what seems to be classically treated as the most defining aspect of this 73 year Tudor era (excluding Elizabeth): the split between England and the Holy Roman Empire under the monarchy of Henry VIII. The divide between the new Church of England, Lutheranism, and Catholicism rocked the European world whose impacts carried its way directly into the realm of the theatre.
Likewise against the Church arose a new form of play outside the classically defined dichotomy of Comedy and Tragedy: The Heroic Play. These plays found roots in the ballads and folk tales of commoners. Contrasting the aristocratic Morality plays and the bourgeois Mystery plays of the "civic middle class" (Brooke 71), heroic plays spoke for the plights of the lower classes. In turn, they also turned their heroes into anti-establishment, and especially anti-catholic figures (Kermode, Scott-Warren, Van Elk).
It is this latter category of Tudor Drama that we have turned our attention to. Because the plays are rooted in folk heroes, well known stories had been treated by a variety of playwrights throughout the Tudor Period, including the tales of Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham.
By examining the evolution of Robin Hood in theatre through the Tudor Period, we seek to encompass and analyze this tumultuous time and how the political and religious events of England permeated through and became represented in theatre.