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  • Print publication year: 2004
  • Online publication date: March 2008

5 - The development of a professional theatre, 1540–1660

The writing of a theatre history reveals almost as much about contemporary tastes and values as it does about the cultural world of the past. The nationwide phenomenon of theatre was highly disparate but this chapter seeks to trace one of the leading features of the emergent professional theatre: the theatre company. The professionalisation of the theatre was to a large degree produced by the development of theatre companies. The chapter attempts to chart some of the complexity surrounding the development of the professional theatre company, 1540-1660, in particular by looking at its relationship to systems of patronage, to actors, entrepreneurs, playwrights and audiences. The structure of patronage relationships and the notion of household membership was a powerful conditioner of the form, although they were not strictly household employees. The printed playtext captured one version of a text that took a multiplicity of forms over time, and editors of early modern drama have battled with the complexities ever since.
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The Cambridge History of British Theatre
  • Online ISBN: 9781139054058
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