• Broadway Beat

Wow! Historians Find That in Shakespeare's Time, the Female Roles Were Played by Men Badly

by Brendan Leonard. @brennylen.

STRATFORD-UPON-AVON, UNITED KINGDOM - Shakespeare scholars at the Exit Pursued by Bear Institute made a shocking discovery this week, regarding the original performances of William Shakeapeare’s plays. Historians have long noted that in the playwright’s times, the roles of the female characters were played by men, as women were barred from appearing on the Elizabethan stage. It was just this week, however, that researchers came to the distinct conclusion that these men really fucking sucked.


“We always thought that these guys were half-decent,” historian Dr. Rutherford Snott said. Snott once had aspirations to be a dentist before one day he uttered “Macbeth” in a theater and was cursed with a life of researching iambic pentameter. “It turns out that these actors were like giggly, little kids, talking in high falsetto and stuffing their bras with watermelons.”


This means that the introduction of such classic characters, like Lady Macbeth, Juliet, and Viola, were played by actors who were terrible at acting. Even worse, it was also discovered that some actors used their parts as a way to make fun of their wives and girlfriends.


“The word ‘drag’ came out of Shakespeare,” said scholar Mary Muffluffton, who studies and exclusively wears pumpkin pants. “We always thought it meant ‘dressed-as-girl.’ In fact, it wasn’t a stage direction. It was Shakespeare writing a note in the margin that it was going to be such a drag to watch his buddies wreck the play with their nonsense.”


One might ask, where were the queer performers? Where were the actors who might play Shakespeare’s women with some sensitivity and commitment? Archeologists recently found a buried diary belonging to Edwin Fandancity, a celebrated actor and contemporary of Shakespeare, who was known for his pioneering gender expression. His writings revealed some insight.


“Girl-eth, the fuck-eth is Miss Shakespeare wasting her time with these bro-eths?” wrote Fandancity in 1597. Fandancity is credited with coining the term “queen,” to describe peasants who were “doing thee most.” He went on to write:


“What is she trying to prove, groveling to those dogs? She should be hitching up her tights with us girls who know how to paint! She’s not getting my help, but she needs it with that sow playing Juliet, looking like a motherfucking hellmouth, shit!”


Thankfully, times have changed and many great actresses have played Shakespeare’s female roles, despite their origins on the stage. It is disheartening to know that Cleopatra and Beatrice and Cordelia were introduced so chauvinistically, but in the words of the great Edwin Fandancity, “that old queen Billy Shakesqueer isn’t all that she’s cracked up to be!”