The remains of London’s second playhouse, The Curtain Theatre, could be unearthed in Shoreditch as part of a development by Plough Yard Developments.
The Curtain Theatre was home to William Shakespeare’s company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, before they settled at the Globe and staged several of Shakespeare’s plays including Romeo and Juliet. Despite being immortalised as “this wooden O” in Henry V, which had its premier at The Curtain Theatre, little detailed information is known about this early playhouse. Excavations are expected to provide great insight into its history.
Archaeologists from Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) have been undertaking exploratory digs at the site of The Curtain Theatre in Hackney. They have discovered what is believed to be one of the best preserved examples of an Elizabethan theatre in the UK. The discoveries include the walls forming the gallery and the yard within the playhouse itself.
British Museum Director Neil MacGregor presents Shakespeare’s Restless World, a new series for Radio 4. The 20-part series looks at the world through the eyes of Shakespeare’s audience by exploring objects from that turbulent period.
Examining these objects, Neil discusses how Elizabethan playgoers understood and made sense of the unstable and rapidly changing world in which they lived. Neil asks what the plays would have meant to the public when they were first performed. He uses carefully selected objects to explore the great issues of the day that preoccupied the public and helped shape the works, and considers what they can reveal about the concerns and beliefs of Shakespearean England.
Contributing to the programmes will be Shakespeare scholars, historians and experts on witchcraft and warfare, fencing and food, luxury trade and many other topics. They discuss the issues these objects raise – everything from exploration and discovery to violence, entertainment and the plague.
Shakespeare’s Restless World – (or download in iTunes)