Shakes and Peers

a guide to the world of Early Modern drama

Playing Companies

Theatre is recognized today as one of the most necessarily collaborative art forms, and Early Modern theatre bears little difference to today in that regard.  In fact, artistic collaboration was likely more frequent, if less particularly documented than collaborations today.

Acting troupes were funded by aristocratic patrons, from whom their name was derived, and so names and troupes shifted with the sway of political tides. For example, Shakespeare’s company switched names when King James took them on at the beginning of his reign.

Here are some of the Playing Companies who laid the “groundling” work for “Golden Age” theatre.

Admiral’s Men

1576-9: Howard’s Men

1579- 1631?: Admiral’s Men (Howard promoted)


Important playhouses:

Children of the Chapel Royal


Important playhouses:  Blackfriars

Leicester’s Men

1572-1588 (when they merged with Lord Strange’s Men)

Burbages construct The Theatre in 1576 to stage their productions.

It is stolen in 1598 by carpenter Peter Street, and later rebuilt as The Globe.

Important playhouses: The Theatre, 


Lord Chamberlain’s Men (later King’s Men)

1564-7: Hundson’s Men 

1567-1603: Lord Chamberlain’s Men (Hundson promoted)

1603-   : King’s Men (King becomes patron)


Important Playhouses: The Globe, 

Lord Strange’s Men


Important playhouses: The Theatre, The Rose

Oxford’s Boys

Paul’s Boys

Prince Charles’ Company

Queen’s Men

Sussex’s Men

Warwick’s Men?

Worcester’s Men


Elizabethan Drama. 
Elizabethan World Reference Library. Ed. Sonia Benson. Vol. 1. Detroit: UXL, 2007. p163-179. 4 vols.

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