Groups of professional actors toured the kingdom performing plays between about 1570 and 1620. These players were the superstar actors of their time and included Leicester's Men and The Queen’s Men.

These troupes performed at the Guildhall several times while Shakespeare was at school. Nowadays it's hard for us to understand just how exciting these performances were for the people of Stratford. But it would be like a professional film crew turning up at your school to shoot the latest Star Wars film.

William Shakespeare's father John Shakespeare attended many of these performances. As an alderman he had to preview the plays to check they weren't subversive, and then grant the players a licence to perform in public.

It's possible that young William may have been recruited to act as an extra or backstage hand. Perhaps this kindled his lifelong passion for the theatre and put him on the first steps to learning his craft and making valuable contacts.