Stage Beauty

Synopsis: Based in the 1660's of London's theaters, this film is about the rules of gender roles in theatre production, and means to change them for everyone's benefit. Ned Kynaston is the assumedly gay cross-dressing actor who has been playing female parts in plays for years, particularly Desdemona in Othello, he also has a close relationship with a member of the Royal Court, the Duke of Buckingham. One day however, the rules of only men playing women could change when aspiring actress Maria auditions as Kynaston's praised role, Desdemona, and soon enough, King Charles II decides to make the law that all female roles should be played only by women. Maria becomes a star, while Ned finds himself out of work. But after a while, Ned finds it in his nature to forgive Maria's aspiration, they may even fall in love, and Charles may proclaim women will be played by either gender.
Genre: Drama
Director(s): Richard Eyre
  3 wins & 1 nomination.
106 min

Stand by, flies.

Stand by, flies.

Stand by, flies.

And cue.



It is the cause,

it is the cause, my soul,

Let me not name it to you,

you chaste stars!

It is the cause.

Yet I'll not shed her blood;

Nor scar that whiter skin of hers than snow,

And smooth as monumental alabaster.

Yet she must die,

- else she'll betray more men.

- Sh!

Put out the light,

and then put out the light:

If I quench thee, thou flaming minister,

I can again thy former light restore,

Should I repent me:

But once put out thy light,

thou cunning'st pattern of excelling nature,

I know not where is that Promethean heat

That can thy light relume.

She wakes.

Who's there?


- Ay, Desdemona.

- Will you come to bed, my lord?

- Have you pray'd tonight, Desdemona?

- Ay, my lord.

If you bethink yourself of any crime

Unreconcil'd as yet to heaven and grace,

Solicit for it straight.

Alas, my lord!

What do you mean by that?

Well, do it, and be brief; I will walk by:

I would not kill thy unprepared spirit;

No, heavens forfend!

I would not kill thy soul.

Talk you of killing?

Ay, I do.

What's the matter?

That handkerchief

that I so lov'd and gave thee.

Thou gav'st to Cassio.

No, by my life and soul!

Send for the man and ask him.

Down, strumpet!

Kill me tomorrow; let me live tonight!

Nay, if you strive...

- But half an hour!

- Being done, there is no pause.

But while I say one prayer!

It is too late!

- Oh, my good lord...

Bravo! Bravo!


Oh, my good lord, yonder's...


Bravo, Mr Kynaston!

...foul murders done!

- Bravo!

- Well done, Mr Kynaston!


Kynaston! Kynaston!

Oh, my good lord,

yonder's foul murders done.

It's the same every bloody show!

- It's not working.

- What do you mean?

I'm trying to get to the end.

They're shouting, "Kynaston!"

We haven't finished the show

for three weeks.

- Fucking Ned Kynaston!

- Not again, Dickie!

It's my scene his fans ruin.

My entrance! My lines!

Emilia dies too, you know.

- Dear boy, I had no idea.

- That does it.

- I serve my notice, Mr Betterton. I quit!

Mr Kynaston!

Mr K! Mr K, you were brilliant!

Such eyes, such hair,

such lips and voice to thrill.

Surely you were the most beautiful

woman in the house.

- See, Pepys likes it.

- I'm talking about my death scene.

Something eludes me.

A gesture, a tone.

You know what, Tommy?

I'm dying too soon.

There's an actor for you.

My death scene doesn't go on long enough.

Grasp the fact, Mr Kynaston.

The performance is a grand success.

What I don't grasp is this.

The King comes to the show last week...

- This is Othello?

- This is Othello.

And he says, the King says,

"Bravo, Betterton.

Wonderful show.

Lots of thrills and chills.

We're coming again, Saturday next.

One question, though.

Could you make it cheerier?"

"Cheerier?" says I. "Yes," he said.

"Just make it a little bit more jolly. "

So I say,

"Your Majesty, Shakespeare ends his play

with Desdemona strangled,

Emilia stabbed,

and Othello disembowelling himself.

Do you suggest we do away with all that?"

"Oh, no," he says, "kill 'em all.

Just make it jollier. "

What none of you glean

is that the King is expressing

a particularly salient view of the stage.

Ah, Your Grace, what salient view

of the stage would that be?

He wants surprises.

The King's been away.

The theatre's been closed for 18 years.

Now he's back, the theatres are open,

what does he find?

The same old things.

Poetry, he approves.

- Ideas, he approves.

- Two ladies to see Mr Kynaston.

- Death, tragedy, yes. But surprise him.

Are they of quality?

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Jeffrey Hatcher

Jeffrey Hatcher is an American playwright and screenwriter. He wrote the stage play Compleat Female Stage Beauty, which he later adapted into a screenplay, shortened to just Stage Beauty (2004). He also co-wrote the stage adaptation of Tuesdays with Morrie with author Mitch Albom, and Three Viewings, a comedy consisting of three monologues - each of which takes place in a funeral home. He wrote the screenplay Casanova for director Lasse Hallström, as well as the screenplay for The Duchess (2008). He has also written for the Peter Falk TV series Columbo and E! Entertainment Television. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "Stage Beauty" STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 27 Oct. 2020. <>.

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