A British academic researching the work and times of William Shakespeare has uncovered a dark chapter of the Elizabethan theatre era.

Bart van Es, a professor of English at the University of Oxford, found that some child actors during the 16th and 17th centuries had been kidnapped from their families and forced to perform on stage or they would be beaten. And, he found out, it was legal — leaving most families powerless to get their sons back.

Carol Off of As It Happens speaks with van Es, who was at his home in Oxford, England.