What kind of scene did Shakespeare shake? Permanent theatres were a new thing, and their repertoire was also new. It was no longer civic and communal, as medieval drama had been; and its former religious subject matter was now forbidden to it by law. It was not academic, like the translated classical plays appreciated by university audiences. It was no longer dependent on the decision of the owner of a great house or of a coaching inn. The actors belonged to the companies (initially travelling companies) which had replaced the civic guilds. Each company had a noble patron: Leicester’s Players, Strange’s Men, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. Although the companies had noble patrons and could play at court, they were commercial enterprises like joint- stock companies and their performances were typically public, though they also performed in private. In London inn- yards of the 1550s, the spectator had put his penny in a box at the entrance (hence ‘box-office’). In 1576 came James Burbage’s polygonal Theatre, an amphitheatre open to the sky, built for the Earl of Leicester’s players but public and permanent. There was a new appetite for drama, a craze which explored the interests of a large new audience.
Swipe to navigate through the chapters of this book
Please log in to get access to this content
- Macmillan Education UK
- Sequence number
- Chapter number