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Shakespeare's Sister - Full Length Play, Drama

Shakespeare's Sister

Emma Whipday

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Full Length Play, Drama

8m, 3f, 1boy(s), 1girl(s)

ISBN: 9780573111907

"What would have happened had Shakespeare had a wonderfully gifted sister, called Judith, let us say...?" Virginia Woolf

More Information Below:

Description | Characters | Media | Author | Now Playing | Reviews
: Paperback

Minimum Fee: $75 per performance


Full Length Play



Time Period - 16th Century / Elizabethan

Settings Of Play - 1592, John Shakespeare's home, The Rose Theatre, Henslowe's brothel, and a cell in the Tower of London


Unit Set/Multiple Settings

Period Costumes


Adult, Teen (Age 14 - 18)


High School/Secondary, College Theatre / Student, Community Theatre, Professional Theatre, Large Stage, Blackbox / Second Stage /Fringe Groups

Judith Shakespeare has one ambition: to be a playwright. When her debt-ridden father forces her into an engagement, she runs away with the help of dashing actor Ned Alleyn, hoping to join her brother in London. But when Judith arrives in the plague-stricken capital, she finds her brother gone, Ned engaged to another, and her play refused.

Judith and the players confront poverty in the midst of economic depression, in a society where women’s freedoms are curtailed, under a government confronting religious extremism in a climate of fear. Judith must choose between succumbing to social pressures, and following her dream, no matter what the cost.

Shakespeare’s Sister was first performed as a staged reading at the Theatre Royal Haymarket as part of the Theatre Royal Haymarket Masterclass Trust’s “Pitch Your Play” scheme, supported by the Noël Coward Foundation and the Vernon Charitable Trust. It was revived as part of the Shakespeare 400 celebrations at King’s College London.

"'It's an excellent play, entertaining, well informed, thought-provoking and moving all at once. Emma is Woolf's daughter. Everyone should buy it and read it!"
Professor Helen Hackett, Professor of Shakespeare, UCL

Shakespeare’s Sister was first performed as a staged reading at the Theatre Royal Haymarket as part of the Theatre Royal Haymarket Masterclass Trust’s Pitch Your Play scheme, supported by the Noël Coward Foundation and the Vernon Charitable Trust, September 2015. It was directed by Asia Osborne



8m, 3f, 1boy(s), 1girl(s)


Reduced casting (Doubling Possible), Expandable casting, Roles for Children

JUDITH SHAKESPEARE - 19, Judith is bright, talented, impetuous and intense.
SUSANNAH SHAKESPEARE - 9, Susannah is precocious and affectionate (can be doubled with Dorothy).
HAMNET SHAKESPEARE - 6, Hamnet is sweet and naïve (can be doubled with Lucy).
AUGUSTINE PHILLIPS (PHIL) - mid 20s, Phil is laddish, calculating and self-interested.
EDWARD ALLEYN (NED) - 26, Ned is a charismatic and successful actor. 
WILLIAM UNDERHILL - early 40s, William is steady, successful and well off. Warwickshire burr. 
JOHN SHAKESPEARE - 50s, John is husband to Mary and father to Judith andWill; he is a handsome, popular, confident man gone to seed. 
MARY SHAKESPEARE - 50s, Mary is wife to John and mother to Judith and Will; she is an intelligent and affectionate woman, but poverty and loss of stability have worn her down. 
RICHARD BURBAGE (DICK) - early 20s, Richard is talented and engaging, but with a teenage rebelliousness. Cockney accent.
WILL SHAKESPEARE - 26, Will is ambitious and brilliant, but has not yet achieved the success or recognition he dreams of.
PHILLIP HENSLOWE (HENSLOWE) - early 40s, Henslowe is a theatre manager, brothel owner and impresario, and a prosperous and canny man. Cockney accent.
JOAN HENSLOWE - early 20s, Joan is Henslowe’s daughter; she is reserved and sharp, but passionate and protective. Cockney accent.
LUCY MORGAN - late teens, Lucy is affectionate, vain, sweet and seems very young. Cockney accent.
DOROTHY CLAYTON - early 30s Dorothy is a cross-dressing woman with charisma and physical power. Cockney accent.
SERGEANT - A self-important petty thug (can be doubled with John). Cockney accent.
SOLDIER 1 - Taciturn and violent (can be doubled with Egerton). Cockney accent.
SOLDIER 2 - A complacent bully (can be doubled with Henslowe).
THOMAS EGERTON (EGERTON) - 40s, Chivalrous, powerful, secret, a gentleman.
JAILOR - Dutiful and compassionate (can be doubled with Ned). Cockney accent.
  • Emma Whipday Introduces Shakespeare's Sister in 60 Seconds

Emma Whipday

Emma Whipday

Emma Whipday is a Teaching Fellow in Shakespeare and Early Modern English Literature at King’s College London. She is also a Globe Education Lecturer at Shakespeare’s Globe. Emma studied English at Oxford, and has received an MA and PhD in Shakespeare from UCL. She has taught at University College London (UCL); Brasenose College, Oxford; and the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Emma is ... view full profile

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