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date: 30 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Acting by boys in early modern England originated in grammar schools and religious institutions. At some point in Elizabeth's reign, some boy choristers performed with sufficient regularity and perhaps also with sufficient skill to be called companies. After the most successful adult troupes began to find more or less permanent homes in London in inns and taverns and after 1576 in specially built large, open-roofed playhouses, the major boy companies performed in halls in their own institutions and briefly in a small indoor playhouse in Blackfriars. Court performance was the crucial factor in the development of the early boy companies. On January 17, 1566, the pupils of the Westminster grammar school performed a play called Sapientia Solomonis before Queen Elizabeth. Grammar school troupes such as the Westminster pupils also performed plays at the early Tudor court. The Master of the Revels was responsible for the plays to be performed at court. The legacy of the pre-1590 boy companies is twofold: their work influenced subsequent playhouses and subsequent playwrights.

Keywords: England, boy companies, grammar schools, plays, Sapientia Solomonis, playhouses, Queen Elizabeth, court performance, Master of the Revels, playwrights

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