The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0324 Thursday, 5 February 2004
Date: Wednesday, 4 Feb 2004 10:39:20 -0800
Subject: Shakespeare's Audience
>Steve Roth might like to look at Martin Butler's Theatre and Crisis
>1632-1642 (Cambridge, 1984) especially Appendix II for a devastating
>critique of Anne Jennalie Cook's thesis
Thanks for this, John. Butler does a very good job of ameliorating
Cook's overstatements in "Privileged Playgoers." (Her ultimate
definition of that group is somewhat circular--those who had the time
and money to attend plays.) Their disagreement is mostly a matter of
degree (pun intended). Cook believes a very large percentage of the
audience was of the "privileged," while Butler argues for a smaller
proportion. Both agree (with Gurr) that the leisured classes attended
theaters in large numbers.
Cook's work is (or at least was) important in counteracting Harbage's
noble artisans, and the still-oddly-prevalent-though-previously-debunked
view that Shakespeare was writing for a bunch of witless groundlings.
Neither of them looks anything like comprehensively at receipts or
profits. Who were Shakespeare's best customers? This thread started with
discussion of marketing, and companies would presumably have tried to
attract more of their most profitable customers.
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