Early Shakespeare Theater Unearthed Near London
June 8, 2012

Early Shakespeare Theater Unearthed Near London

Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com

The Museum of London announced on Wednesday that archaeologists have discovered the remains of William Shakespeare's Curtain Theatre.

The Curtain Theatre was found behind a pub in Shoreditch, which is east of London, as part of regeneration works.

The playhouse was home to William Shakespeare's company, the Lord Chamberlain's Men, before the group settled at the Globe.

The museum said that the discovery includes the walls forming the gallery and the yard within the playhouse itself.

The Curtain Theatre opened up in 1577 close to London's first playhouse known as "The Theatre." It was one of a number of early theaters built outside the City of London's walls, according to the museum.

“This is one of the most significant Shakespearian discoveries of recent years," A spokesperson from Plough Yard Developments, the site's owners, said in a statement. "Although the Curtain was known to have been in the area, its exact location was a mystery."

The site is currently largely covered by buildings, so the redevelopment of the area is the only way to uncover the rest of the historic playhouse.

Plough Yard Development said it hopes to make the remains of The Curtain Theatre into the centerpiece of a new development.

Part of the plans include keeping the remains in place, and opening them up to the public through the public space, along with a mix of new homes, offices, shops and restaurants for Shoreditch.

"The quality of the remains found is remarkable and we are looking forward to working with MOLA, local community and Shakespearian experts to develop plans that will give the public access to the theatre remains as part of a new development," the company spokesperson said.

“Shoreditch is one of London´s most vibrant and creative districts. Once this discovery is open to the public it will add to the area´s rich heritage.”

Eddie Raymayne, who won last year´s Critics Circle Theatre Awards for Best Shakespearian Performance with his Richard II performance at the Donmar Warehouse, said in a press release that the discovery is "thrilling."

“The discovery of The Curtain is a thrilling prospect particularly in this year of the World Shakespeare Festival," Raymayne said. "With The Globe and The Rose having helped add such cultural vibrancy to Borough, I'm excited to see what the exploration of this exceptional site will unearth and bring to this already brilliant area of the capital.”

The Museum of London said that The Curtain Theatre was the main venue for Shakespeare's plays between 1597 and 1599. They believe that "Romeo and Juliet" was first staged at the playhouse.

“This is a fantastic site which gives us unique insight into early Shakespearian theatres," Chris Thomas from the museum and leader of the archaeological work, said in a press release. "We are delighted that Plough Yard Developments plan to preserve the remains in place and open them up to the public as there are few similar sites across the UK.”