Abstract

In the past fifty years, while the playgoing public of Shakespeare's London has inspired four books, not one has been written on that of seventeenth-century Madrid. Nonetheless, the idea that the Golden Age theater was a "democratic" one, frequented by all strata of society, has long held sway in histories of Spanish theater and, indeed, in theater criticism. The democratic view may be tested with evidence drawn from economic data; social, economic and literary histories; accounts by foreign travelers; literary sources; correspondence; police reports; theater box rentals; and sermons. The question I pose is not who could occasionally attend the theater, but who had both the money and the leisure time to frequent the theater? One must wonder whether, in an economy known to be in crisis, the laborer, the shopkeeper, and the apprentice really had leisure time and spending money. What were an ordinary household's daily expenditures in Madrid? What social types lived in Madrid and in what numbers? This paper presents a synthesis of secondary source material on seventeenth-century demographics and social class in Madrid and questions the assumption that all social classes could afford to be theatergoers in seventeenth-century Madrid. (JWA)

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Additional Information

ISSN
1944-0928
Print ISSN
0007-5108
Pages
pp. 89-96
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-08
Open Access
No
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