During the Jacobean period, the audience was very different than the kind of audience we find today. There were public playhouses and private playhouses and in both these places one could find a variant set of audience.
The private playhouses were essentially reserved for the royals or the members of the aristocratic class. These playhouses thus formed a separate place wherein only the rich and affluent went to watch plays. Also, the role of this eminent class in masques was more than being mere spectators.
The other category where audience enjoyed the plays was the public playhouses. As the name suggests, it was open to the commoners. The people who watched plays in public playhouses were those who were not very rich but could afford to spend some money on watching plays. However, many from the educated class chose to stay away from the theatre.
The type of audience which went to watch plays in playhouses was absolutely different. They would sit quietly in the several rows which faced the stage. The audience was very responsive and felt and connected with the emotions expressed by the actor on the stage.
Thus, the audience applauded when a comedy scene was going on or when the central character claimed his victory over the villain, the audience also cried when tragic scenes were being emoted. It is believed that the impact and demand of Shakespearean plays was so much that men and women belonging to all age groups and classes shed their inhibitions about the class different and sat together to watch his plays.
The strength of the audience did not pour out in thousands as we commonly see it today. A few people watched the plays. Moreover, the poor people barely made enough money to spend it on something like a play. The tickets for the plays in the public playhouses were kept at a reasonable rate so that people could buy them. Despite the rates of the tickets, not everyone was fortunate enough to afford this luxury.