The late sixteenth century may have been the great golden age of English drama, but life for all but a few lucky Jacobean players was desperately precarious (the word ‘career’ in this period retained its older sense of something a horse does under you when it tries to bolt). A government statute of 1572 branded players as ‘rogues, vagabonds and sturdy beggars’, and, unless they could acquire the protection of a patron, they were exposed to the whim of the authorities. The Puritan City fathers in London detested theatres and all they stood for, and endlessly, bad-temperedly, angled for them to be closed down; breeding grounds for bubonic plague, incitements to sedition, lewdness, frivolousness, time-wasting. Between 1603 and 1612, London theatres went dark for nearly eighty months, often for long stretches of a time, forcing actors into other work or out on the road. In the harsh theatre closures of 1592-93 (when even Shakespeare attempted to find another job, as a courtly poet), as many as 200 players were cast out of work.
---from Worlds Elsewhere: Journeys Around Shakespeare’s Globe by Andrew Dickson.