Shakespeare and Patronage
Patronage of early modern drama, as an area of study, has developed significantly in the last twenty years; scholars have explored how and why theatre became a commercial enterprise, performed for and paid for by the common people as well as the nobility. In late sixteenth-century London, during Shakespeare’s lifetime, drama also began to be printed and purchased as reading material. Textual patronage is an element of early modern drama studies which currently holds new and intriguing opportunities for research.
My interest is the beginning and current status of theatrical patronage. What is at stake now, when the state patronises drama? When plays are beamed into cinemas across the globe by the NTLive broadcast programme? I want to rejoin this chapter of theatre history, the evolution of theatrical and textual patronage, with a close analysis of select plays as they circulate in the past and in the present moment.