During the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I and VI, acting companies regularly performed at court. Plays were selected by a court official called the Master of the Revels.
Court seasons typically featured performances of plays in different genres and styles by a number of companies, as well as spectacular one-off entertainments known as masques. Most of the performances during this period were held at Whitehall.
You can explore extracts from the records of payments made for the Christmas and Easter seasons of 1604-5 and 1611-12. They include the names of the companies, the titles of the plays and – in the 1604-5 accounts – the names of the playwrights, including ‘Shaxberd’. This was an unusual rendering of Shakespeare’s name, but spelling was not standardised in this period.
(The National Archives: A0 3/908 part 14)