Quote in Context
Nay, 'tis most certain, Iras: saucy lictors
Will catch at us, like strumpets; and scald rhymers
Ballad us out o' tune: the quick comedians
Extemporally will stage us, and present
Our Alexandrian revels; Antony
Shall be brought drunken forth, and I shall see
Some squeaking Cleopatra boy my greatness
I' the posture of a whore.
Antony and Cleopatra (5.2), Cleopatra
In Shakespeare's time, and for nearly a century thereafter, women were not allowed on the English stage. Boys whose voices had not changed were dressed in drag and forced to battle the challenging lines spoken by Shakespeare's great heroines. It seems unfathomable to us, and Shakespeare no doubt found it very frustrating at times, as we see in the above passage. But more often than not Shakespeare makes fun of the ridiculous practice, as in A Midsummer Night's Dream, when Flute cries, "let me not play a woman; I have a beard coming." Read on...