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.

- F***ing 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?

What about sex, vis--vis the stage?

The King approves of love, the idea.

What about sex, the expression?

Poetry can express sex.

So can sex.

Mr Kynaston,

if you insist on something more graphic,

show a tit.

- The King won't complain.

- How would you suggest I do that?

Surprise me.

Excuse me, two gentleladies

want to come backstage.

Two of them? Excellent.

They wish to be received

by Mr Kynaston.

Five minutes. Then bring them back.

Why five minutes?

Got to put my visage back on.

They want the illusion,

not some green room hermaphrodite.

- This, Tommy, is why I deserve a share.

- Oh, no.

What are you two talking about?

Mr Kynaston's contract is up.

He's putting the screws on me.

I want a share of the company.

I'm as much a draw as you are. More so.

Prove it!

Well, where are your fans?

Where are your ladies?

Oh, all right.

But a share of the company

is out of the question.


as a gesture of faith to prove

that I am trying to find a way,

in the interim, from this time forth,

you can have approval of any actor

who shares the stage with you.

- Gentlemen, you are my witnesses.


And I'm off to another show.

What show?

- Something new.

- I'll join you.

Good show, Betterton.

Lovely as always, Mr K.

- Your Grace.

- Gentlemen.



Go away.

Ah! Mr Betterton!

Could I have a word with you

a moment, please?

Oh, look, there's Mr Betterton!

Evening, ladies.

I wasn't good tonight.

You were splendid.


But I wasn't good.

"Same old things. "

Fortunately, they keep

giving us new audiences.

Why does one act?

When you act, you can be seen.


Greet your public.

It always cheers you up.




Lady Meresvale and Miss Frayne.


- You start.

- You do it.

Oh, you do it. I'll die!

Mr Kynaston, we saw

the performance this evening.

We're such fans, I can't tell you.

She's seen you six times. She has.

Juliet and Ophelia.

And the one with no hands.

Mr Kynaston, I am a great fan.

And I was wondering...

Well... Would you be willing to ride with us

through St James's tonight?

It would be such an honour to have you.

- Please, please, please!

- Please!

If you give me half an hour

to remove my face and clothes.

Oh, no, don't, please!

Mr Kynaston, weod ke you

to eave you r appearance

as is.

He said yes!

This is so good!

Mr Kynaston, if I may,

would you be able to make me

an advance on salary?

- Advance? That's unlike you.

- Till the end of the week.

- How much?

- Six.

Thank you.

Will you be needing me later?

Oh, yes. Hopeless without.

How long do you think

you'll be with them?

- Three hours, say?

- Yes, I'll be here.

Mr Kynaston!

Mr Kynaston!

- Is he coming?

Do hurry up, Mr Kynaston, please!

All these people!

Mr Kynaston!

MAN Are you an actor, too?

I played the Moor.

You look different.

Yes, I'm not really black.

Where were you?

- Thought you'd abandoned us.

- I couldn't get away.

- Did you bring it?

- She'd better had.

Mr Cockerell.

If you expect to perform,

I expect my guarantee.

It's my risk, you know.

It's illegal to have these on stage.

Both of us

were rather wondering

if you were... really...

...well, a gentleman.

For, you see, my father's a wigmaker.

He says you're much too beautiful

to be a gentleman.

He says you must be a woman.

My mother's friend,

the Earl of Lauderdale, says,

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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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