In the days of early theater, when John Burbage erected the first playhouse, woman were not allowed to take part in the plays because they risked the chance of being looked down upon.
Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard perfectly idealized in their movie “Shakespeare In love”, how unjust it was for women to be in what was thought to be a mans place.
Woman were thought to be inferior to men, which is why most thought their professions resided In the household. Woman weren’t fit for acting, which back in he Elizabethan time it was considered a precarious way to earn a living and wasn’t as glamorous as it is in today’s time.
Most of the play houses were built outside of city walls because acting wasn’t highly regarded. Actors had to travel and rehearse very often and most were disliked. It was a rough life and considered unsuitable for woman (Plowden 63).
In the movie “Shakespeare in Love”, Viola, the main female character had fallen in love with poems, sonnets and plays. She decided to take up a new identity, dress herself up as a man and go by the name Thomas Kent. She had heard about open auditions being held for a play that was to be written and held at one of the playhouses at the outskirts of town. Will and the theater owner had gone through many men and Will had been fed up with those that had auditioned and he was close to his breaking point but then “Thomas Kent” comes on stage and asks if he may begin, he states “I would like to do a speech by a writer who commands the heart of every player”. She recites lines from Valentines speech and Will is filled with astonishment that he just heard lines from what he had wrote. He knew he had found his Romeo, in truth he wanted Viola's alter ego so bad that after Thomas Kent was startled by Wills reactions she ran and Will chased her all the way to her home and when he arrived at her home her nurse had answered the door and he wrote a note that basically explained that the great William Shakespeare was in the process of writing a master play in which he wanted Thomas Kent to be apart of. Viola knew she would have to keep up with her facade and she did so with the help of her nurse (Norman Stoppard 35, 36).
In the Bedford Companion to Shakespeare : An introduction with Documents, which is a book that explicitly delves into the life of Shakespeare, states that men were trained to play the woman roles but they were only able to play these roles until their voices and or physical appearance changed, thus making them unable to perform as woman (McDonald 113).
In one of Shakespeare plays, “ Julius Caesar, there are thirty-four male roles, not counting messengers, senators, attendants and spear carriers but only two woman parts...” the lack of female roles is due to the fact that many men weren’t skilled enough to play as females.
Viola knew her actions were punishable even more so now because she is being forced to marry Lord Wessex who addresses that he wants her to be, “Submissive, modest grateful and brief.” (Norman Stoppard 60).
Her charade continues throughout the movie with only her nurse and Will knowing. The play that Will has written has put people under his trance and in complete awe of his work until there is a young peasant boy, named Webster that snitches to Tilney that there is a woman in the play house. In the screen play it is explained that “Tilney is unstoppable. He jumps on the stage and seizes Sam Gosse. Before Webster or anyone can intervene, Tilney pulls up his skirt, ignoring SAM'S rather guttural yell of protest and pulls down Sam's