Archaeologists in the London borough of Shoreditch have uncovered the city’s first theatre, and the first that staged Shakespeare’s plays.
Named simply “The Theatre”, it opened in 1576 and the game is afoot to build a new theatre on the site. The Theatre Appeal is raising money for the project and plans to install glass floors so visitors can admire the original Elizabethan floor and foundations.
The Theatre was disassembled in 1598 and the beams used to build Shakespeare’s more famous venue, the Globe. The reason for this move was that the landowner had a dispute with Shakespeare’s troupe and threatened to kick them out. So the Bard and friends waited until the landowner was away for Christmas, took the building apart, and spirited it to a new location.
A reconstructed Globe offers daily performances on the south bank of the Thames. The faithful reproduction gives you the feel for the original without the toothless peasants, dead cats, and outbreaks of the plague. You can even buy cut-rate tickets for the “groundling” section, a standing-room-only area in front of the stage. The performances are of uniformly high quality. Having lived in London for a year, I put it on my top ten list of things for visitors to do. A reconstruction of The Theatre would give Shakespeare lovers a double-dose of the The Bard.
Public domain image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.