Adult Playing Companies 1603–1613

Tom Rutter

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 1603–1613

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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)
  • Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights)



The year 1603 ushered in a new chapter in the history of early modern theatre companies in England. First, it marks the end of one reign and the beginning of another: Elizabeth died on March 24, and James was crowned on July 25. More specifically, as far as the adult playing companies were concerned, it brought a wholesale change in theatrical patronage. These changes of patronage had significant repercussions for the playing companies over the decade that followed. This article examines patronage in relation to other factors that affected the companies' business structures and commercial fortunes between 1603 and 1613, notably the security that two of the companies enjoyed at their playhouses from the turn of the century, the revival of the children's companies around the same time, and the prevalence of plague throughout much of the decade. It also looks at the companies' core product, the plays in their repertories, identifying two further and conflicting influences on dramatic production: the need for playing companies to be competitive, and the evolution of distinctive company styles.

Keywords: England; plague; adult playing companies; theatre companies; patronage; playhouses; children's companies; plays; repertories

Article.  8584 words. 

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

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