Marion Jones offers a retrospective list of reasons for the popularity of transvestite playing. She claims that "more than one excuse served to get actresses into breeches for the delectation of a predominantly male audience." [23] First, there were revivals of older plays where the female parts were played by boys.

Many of these plays incorporated the notion of gender disguise into the plot, often displaying the female character dressed in the guise of a man. "With the advent of actresses, titillating dénouements with bared bosoms and flowing tresses became popular, and new plays were written to exploit this 'disguise penetrated' motif." [24] The other reason was a new freedom of expression of the heroines in many new plays. These heroines were often outspoken and wild; dressing in male attire was seen as a testament to such wildness. Nell Gwyn is most notably remembered for this, particularly her performance as the madcap Florimell in Dryden's Secret Love (1667).

"Prologues and epilogues were sometimes given by favourite actresses in men's clothes with no other apparent reason than to provide the same arbitrary thrill." [25] In some rare cases, repertory companies emerged staffed with only actresses. There were even all-children's companies (or 'Lilliputians'), "and a number of indecent prologues and epilogues devised to be spoken by little girls survive to attest the immorality and profanity of the English audience." [26]

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