What's past is prologue; what to come? Digging up Shakespeare’s first theatre… take two.
The Tower Theatre Company is set to build a new theatre where the infamous Elizabethan playhouse stood in the late 16th century. Previous excavations at the site in Shoreditch revealed the yard where audiences stood and the 16th century pottery from which they drank.
The Shakespearean theatre remains have thankfully been largely unscathed by building in the area to date. For the first time the public are able to watch the excavations unfold as the dig is being broadcast through a site blog and a series of video diaries, posted by the archaeologists on site.
Taryn Nixon, Managing Director of Museum of London Archaeology, says “There was nothing quite like these playhouses anywhere – they became a vital part of society at every level. It’s extraordinary to be working here where Shakespeare would have performed, and where early plays like Romeo and Juliette would have premiered. The Tower Theatre Company is doing a great deed for the world by helping to preserve these invaluable remains.”
Writer and Film Director, Barry Bliss, says: “I can’t emphasise enough how profound it is to us – this is the beginning of it all – this is where our peculiarly British art form had its first permanent home.”
The dig is being carried out in collaboration with English Heritage and funded by the Tower Theatre Company, London’s only full time non-professional theatre company. The excavations have the potential to unearth exciting finds that shed light on Shakespearean theatres, life in Shakespearean London and give a voice to the people of the past that have had such a profound impact on our cultural identity.
Watch this space…