Astonishingly, it was completely illegal in Shakespeare’s time for either women or children to act in plays. As such, crossdressing men would play the role of any female character. Evidence of this was found through English legal documents discovered from the time, and also through copies of Shakespeare’s own plays, where the stage directions were written exclusively for men – even in regards to female characters. Can you imagine a man playing as Juliet in Shakespeare’s day and age? It sounds bizarre, and yet back then it was considered perfectly normal!