Will at Work The Lord Chamberlin's Men
Actors enter backstage immediately after a performance of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at the new Globe Theater in 1599 as ‘Nell,’ the peasant costume seamstress, is pulling a tooth belonging to actor Augustine Phillips who has, donkey ears and all, just played Bottom. Will asks two of his actors to read a scene he’s scribed for his new play, ‘The Life of Henry V.’ William Kempe of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men will read Katherine, princess of France, and the aging Thomas Pope will read her maidservant, Alice, who is assigned to instruct Katherine in her new language, English. The scene is in French which the actors butcher badly until Shakespeare switches Kempe out for the humble Nell, who acts out the rest of the scene in a very fine French to the surprise of all …and to the dismay of primary sharer Richard Burbage who fears the Master of Revels might catch them in this forbidden adventure in the reign of Elizabeth I in which women were forbidden to perform. (This is the opening scene in the feature length script).