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Tudor England, acting, early English drama


Records published to date concerning early English drama suggest that in the first third of the sixteenth century touring activity by municipal, amateur acting companies exceeded that of royal and aristocratic troupes. But after about 1535, the religious, social, and economic policies of Henry VIII, and Edward VI, severely limited locally based performances. At the same time tours by royal acting troupes substantially increased. Yet of all the Tudors, it was Elizabeth who seems to have realized the potential of her acting troupe representing the monarch's presence throughout the kingdom. From the beginning of her reign the Queen’s Men appeared in the provinces on average thirteen times per year. It was under Elizabeth, too, that aristocrats seemed to perceive an advantage to sponsoring acting companies. Provincial records show a virtual explosion in touring by their troupes. Political ends of some sort must have been perceived by nobles who patronized acting troupes, even if nothing more than having their names and liveries shown about the kingdom. But provincial records also show that their actor-servants found they could make a good living as touring players.