Back to SIL Main

Shakespeare's Times


From The Electric Shakespeare

There were several competing theater companies during Shakespeare's career. Each took its name from the aristocrat who was the company's nominal patron; without such patronage the actors would have been in the same legal class as vagrants and beggars. Shakespeare's company was under the "protection" of a high court official called the Lord Chamberlain until 1603 when, with the accession of King James I, it became the King's Men (or Servants).

Despite this vestige of feudal organization, the Lord Chamberlain's/King's Men functioned as a proto-capitalist business, drawing much of its income from paid admissions to its home theater. The Lord Chamberlain's/King's Men included boys and men (there were no girls or women) who were paid a wage, and others who were shareholders or "sharers" in the company's profits. Shakespeare the actor was a sharer. He was also a stockholder in the company's home, the Globe Theater. The theaters were periodically closed, for instance by outbreaks of plague; at such times the company might go on tour. At all times it was more than happy to play command performances at the royal court, which paid highly and were excellent for prestige.

The repertory of the Lord Chamberlain's/King's Men was huge by the standards of any modern repertory theater: the actors performed as many as 30 different plays in a single theatrical season. Of those plays, at least 15 would be new that year (including, on average, two by Shakespeare); the company added a new play to its repertory about once every two weeks. Rehearsal periods must have been relatively brief. There was no director in the modern sense of the word

Shakespeare Collage

"Thou art a monument without a tomb,
And art alive still, while thy book doth live
And we have wits to read and praise to give...."

Ben Jonson's Eulogy to Shakespeare on the Bard's death

 Click on the watch to read about customs & times

Click on the pocket watch to read more about Elizabethan Times

Click to read about Elizabethan Insults

And on the hat to read & make up Elizabethan insults

Click to read about teeth

And on the comb to read about Elizabethan dental habits

Click on the chest for the real players

And on the chest for the real players


An interesting link to Elizabethan Male Costume

Back to top