The Kings Men

The King's Men was a theatrical company known originally variously as the Lord Chamberlain's Men or Hunsdown's Men, until 1603. In 1609, Burbage and the King's Men took over the 'private' theatre at Blackfriars, a enclosed hall measuring only 66 feet by 44. In using it for his winter quarters, Burbage was doing more than bringing the drama in out of the rain. The Globe Theatre had been much larger, and open to the sky. It catered for all classes of society and gave them drama larger than life, broad comedy and bloody murder. At Blackfriars the audience was smaller, more select. It cost more to get in and, in general, conditions approached those of the masquing hall rather than the public theatres. And as the playhouse and masquing hall came closer, so did playsong and masque song--technically at any rate, although the different levels on which they functioned prevented a complete merger of the styles. In the masque, music was a means of suspending reality and conjuring up a world of symbolism. In the play, its role was to deepen, not suspend reality.

John Wilson  |  English Lute Composers before 1635   |  IV M: England Through 1635