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Financial Support of the 17th Century English Theater Essay

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This paper will explore in mostly chronological order the financial escapades of theater in England during the 17th century. During the reign of James I and Charles I the theatre flourished gaining most of its support from nobility. During the Reformation, theater could not prosper without support which everyone was too scared to provide. After the Restoration of the monarchy, the nobility tried a different approach of managing the theaters by giving the monopoly to a William Davenant and Thomas Killigrew. Most of the responsibility of finding funds fell on what the managers could scrape out of the theater goers pocket. Specific managers were set up to look after the wellbeing of the theater, rather than a patron noble. Money and support still came from the monarchy but not as much as before the Reformation. When William III inherited the throne, the theater was left to its own devises and changed hands many times through the end of the century.
In 1603, the public acting companies came under the direct control of the monarchy when James I ascended the throne. James inherited a lot of financial problems and left England deep in a debt of more than £400,000 when he died. James immediately became patron to the theater when he came into power. The Lord Chamberlain’s men became the King’s men, and the Admiral’s company became Prince Henry’s men. The raise in social status gave the actors the right to call themselves gentlemen. The rest of society somewhat tolerated this social change, but amongst themselves did not acknowledge the status of actors as gentlemen.
At the beginning of the century in 1608 the playhouses were shut down for a year due to plague. Actors within the two companies were paid the same as unskill...


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...t & Co., 1879. TheatreDatabase.com. Web. 19 November 2011.
Boswell, Eleanore B. The Restoration Court Stage, 1660-1702, with a particular account of the production of Calisto. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1966. Print
Edwards, Philip. Threshold of a Nation: A Study in English and Irish Drama. London: Cambridge University Press, 1979. Print.
Gurr, Andrew. The Shakespeare Company, 1594-1642. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004. Print.
McLean, Ralph. "James VI And I And His Patronage Of The Arts." Britain in Print. Web. 20 Nov. 2011.
Owen, Susan J. A Companion to Restoration Drama. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2008. Print
Wilson, John H. A Preface to Restoration Drama. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965. Print.


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