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On the Economics of the Theater in Renaissance London

Mary I. Oates and William J. Baumol
The Swedish Journal of Economics
Vol. 74, No. 1, Economics of Location: Theory and Policy Aspects (Mar., 1972), pp. 136-160
Published by: Wiley on behalf of The Scandinavian Journal of Economics
DOI: 10.2307/3439014
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3439014
Page Count: 25
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On the Economics of the Theater in Renaissance London
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Abstract

The theater of Elizabeth and James (1576-1642) was entirely commercial, receiving virtually no subsidy from patrons. Though not always profitable, some theatrical entrepreneurs made fortunes and many actors lived comfortably. The profitability of runs of two weeks (today some 35 weeks are required) helps explain the many plays produced. The high attendance rate was necessary for prosperity of the theater in a city under 200 000. It was also probably helped by the Tudor inflation which apparently reduced real wages to their lowest level from the late Middle Ages to the present. Today, with real wages many times higher and attendance rates lower, such small cities cannot provide prosperous unsubsidized theater.

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