The everyday life of a company.

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The companies

  • the Admiral's Men, at the Rose. 

  •  the Lord Chamberlain's Men, at the Globe (later the King's Men).

  • companies of boy players performing in their private theatres. 

 

The playhouses

Most playhouses were on the riverbanks:



1576: the Theatre (1)
1577: the Curtain (2)
1587: the Rose (3)
1595: the Swan (4)
1599: the Globe (5)
1600: the Fortune (6)
1600: the Boar's Head (7)
1605: the Red Bull (8)
1613: the Hope(9)

 

 The only playhouse in the City was the Blackfriars (1576) (10)

The Lord Chamberlain's men


Names of the players, First Folio edition.


The main company usually consisted of regular players and boy apprentices who played all the female roles. Travelling players were employed for particular plays. In England, it was forbidden for women to appear on the stage on grounds of immorality.

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William Shakespeare himself usually played in his own productions. But the most famous "players" of the time were:

  • William Kemp:  one of the principal actors of Shakespeare's earlier plays, and one of the original owners of the Globe theatre. He left the company in 1599, possibly after an argument with Shakespeare. Kemp specialized in clown characters.

  • Robert Armin (c.1568-1615): the comic actor who succeeded Will Kemp in 1599.

  • Richard Burbage (1568-1619) was the leading actor in the Lord Chamberlain's and  King's Men. He performed in tragedies and was one of the greatest tragedians of his time.

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Performances

In those times, the theatre was a very popular entertainement. The poorer people stood in the central uncovered pit. Only the richer could sit in the roofed galleries. That is why they only played there during the summer.

There was no means of lightening the place, so they performed in daytime. As there were no microphones either, an as the spectators were often very noisy, the players had to repeat their lines in different places of the stage. In fact, it was probably difficult to follow a play: there were cock or dog fights in the pit, there were bear teamers and in the upper galleries, there stood prostitutes.

As for the players, they interrupted their performance regularly to leave way for clowns, dancers and singers. And if they were not good enough, the audience would throw rotten fruit at them.

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