Theatre as Business

Melissa Aaron

in The Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199566105
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

Theatre as Business


This article discusses Shakespeare's company as a business. The increasing economic centralization of England in London created a market large enough for luxury goods and services such as the theatre. A shift to cash, and later to a credit economy, gave audiences literally the currency to pay for admission to public theatres. In addition to this new public market, playing companies were able to expand their traditional markets of touring and private performance. The courts of King James and King Charles provided additional markets for the company's work that represented a larger portion of the company's business as time went on, possibly to its detriment. The discussion also examines lawsuits. These are very important in assigning the value of shares in both the playing company, the Chamberlain's Men, later the King's Men; in the theatres, the Globe and the Blackfriars; and in providing details of income and expenses.

Keywords: Shakespeare's company; theatre business; lawsuits; Chamberlain's Men; King's Men; Blackfriars

Article.  6567 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Shakespeare Studies and Criticism

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