Playing company

In Renaissance London, playing company was the usual term for a company of actors. These companies were organized around a group of ten or so shareholders (or "sharers"), who performed in the plays but were also responsible for management. The sharers employed "hired men" – that is, the minor actors and the workers behind the scenes. The major companies were based at specific theatres in London; the most successful of them, William Shakespeare's company the King's Men, had the open-air Globe Theatre for summer seasons and the enclosed Blackfriars Theatre in the winters. The Admiral's Men occupied the Rose Theatre in the 1590s, and the Fortune Theatre in the early 17th century.

Less fortunate companies spent most of their existences touring the provinces; when Worcester's Men gained official permission to perform in London in 1602, they were, in a manner of speaking, "coming in from the cold" of a life of constant touring.