Why was Elizabethan theatre so successful?
One of the reasons that Elizabethan theatre was so successful was that
it was enjoyed by the Queen. Elizabeth never visited the theatre
herself, but was known to have invited companies of actors to perform
for her at court, as is shown by this extract from government records
"To the Lord Chamberlain's players at Whitehall, 25 February 1572, for
a play presented by them before Her Majesty on St Stephen's Day."
She was a very important patron of the theatre, even allowing one
company to call themselves "The Queen's men". This meant that people
would think that the theatre was not a bad thing as the ruler
appointed by God supported it, and therefore they could not be doing
wrong by following her example.
The nobles of England were also known to be supporters of the theatre,
many invited companies of actors to their homes to perform plays for
them. The nobles often patronised companies to prevent them from being
prosecuted for being vagabonds. One example of this is that Lord
Hunsdon, the Lord Chamberlain, gave money to a group of actors and
even let them call themselves "The Lord Chamberlain's Men". This meant
that people would follow the example of their Lords and go to the
theatre. Another reason that nobles supported the theatre was that it
prevented the lower classes from causing trouble because it took their
minds off the problems of their lives, such as poverty and
unemployment. This meant that encouragement was given to the poor to
go to the theatre which increased its attendance and popularity.
An attraction to the theatre was its cheap entry cost, for groundlings
it only cost 1 penny, this meant that it was accessible to even the
poorest Elizabethans. The theatre cost different amounts depending of
where you wanted to be, the yard where everyone all stood together
cost 1 penny, to sit cost 2 pennies and for a wealthy person to sit
comfortably in a place where they could be seen by most of the people
in the theatre cost only 3 pennies. The cheapness of this attracted
people of all classes, the poor to see the wealthy and to have a
cheapish day out, and the wealthy to show themselves and their riches
off in front of everyone at the theatre.
The theatre was very successful because it held attractions for a wide
variety of people. To the rich it offered a...