English women didn’t act on London’s professional stages until the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660. But Dr. Pamela Allen Brown, author of The Diva's Gift to the Shakespearean Stage, argues that star actresses from Italy altered both plays and playing despite this fact, a process that began in the 1570s, when commedia dell’arte troupes first set foot in London. Those Italian troupes featured something radically new and controversial: “divine” actresses who played the lead innamorata in vehicles and star scenes that spanned genres. After English diplomats and travelers to the Continent encountered this novelty in the 1570s, a few commedia troupes crossed the Channel to play for Elizabeth and for popular audiences, bringing actresses with them. And, Professor Brown says, the Italians’ creativity and materials and the diva’s fame and skill spurred writers to generate Italianate plays featuring strong-willed, theatrically brilliant foreign women, played by boys. In the long run, this revolution in playing widened the horizons of drama and regendered the stage. Pamela Allen Brown is interviewed by Barbara Bogaev. Pamela Allen Brown is a Professor of English at the University of Connecticut at Stamford. Her previous books include Better a Shrew than a Sheep: Women, Drama, and the Culture of Jest in Early Modern England, published by Cornell University Press in 2003, and Women Players in Early Modern England: Beyond the All-Male Stage, which she co-edited with Peter Parolin. That was published by Ashgate in 2005. Her new book, The Diva's Gift to the Shakespearean Stage, was published by Oxford University Press in 2021. From the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast. Published March 29, 2022. © Folger Shakespeare Library. All rights reserved. This podcast episode, “I Shall See Some Squeaking Cleopatra Boy My Greatness,” was produced by Richard Paul. Garland Scott is the associate producer. It was edited by Gail Kern Paster. Ben Lauer is the web producer. Leonor Fernandez edits a transcript of every episode, available at folger.edu. We had technical help from Andrew Feliciano and Paul Luke at Voice Trax West in Studio City, California, and Josh Wilcox and Walter Nordquist at Brooklyn Podcasting Studio in Brooklyn, New York.