Adult Playing Companies 1583–1593

Sally-Beth MacLean

in The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Theatre

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199697861
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

 Adult Playing Companies 1583–1593

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Two pivotal events bookend the decade 1583–1593 in Elizabethan theatre history. In March 1582 to 1583, the careers of several leading acting companies were disrupted by the formation of a large new company with a formidable list of principal players. No actor would have resisted the casting call by Edmond Tilney, Master of the Revels, acting under the direction of Sir Francis Walsingham, Principal Secretary to Elizabeth I. And none of the patrons of these acting companies would have questioned the departure of their players to join the new Queen's Men, a company that was to dominate the court's annual festive revels as well as the provincial performance calendar across the country for most of the following decade. Available evidence suggests that 1583–1593 was a period of transition in business practices of adult playing companies in England. There was some resilience in patronage of acting companies after the initial shock to the system in 1583. There are several primary sources to consider in piecing together information about company repertories, including the Revels accounts of performances by acting companies at court.

Keywords: England; Elizabeth I; adult playing companies; theatre history; Edmond Tilney; revels; Francis Walsingham; Queen's Men; business practices; patronage

Article.  8210 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800) ; Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights)

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