A Winter's Tale: Celebrating Christmas on the Time Truck in Hackney

MOLA team

This weekend the Time Truck hosted a Christmas celebration of Shakespearean scale in Hackney with finds from the Curtain Theatre, where the bard himself was known to have performed, festive token making fun for children, and a time-lapse video of our detailed excavation. There was also a chance to see a raucous live theatrical rendition of Twelfth Night.

We took along some of the amazing artefacts discovered at the theatre by our archaeologists including a medieval merchant’s token from the late 16th to early 17th centuries which inspired our family activity of token making.

Merchants tokens are fascinating items, our archaeologists were on hand to explain that following the Great Debasement initiated by Henry VIII in 1544 when many coins were withdrawn from circulation because the weight of the precious metals used in the coinage greatly exceeded the coins actual worth, merchants and shopkeepers used redeemable pledges, in the form of tokens made of copper or brass, to make up for the shortage of legal tender. The token found at the Curtain Theatre shows that these tokens were still in circulation during the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods!

Our younger audiences were invited to make their own take-home festive merchants tokens and give them a modern twist with stickers of superheroes, animals and sparkles.

We rounded off the day in style with a first for the Time Truck, a rip-roaring, cue-scripted, live performance of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night by Shake-Scene Shakespeare, bringing the Bard back to Hackney, where so many of his plays were first performed.

The event was a resounding success and the community really enjoyed exploring connections between Shakespeare and their local area, seeing first-hand the physical evidence of one of London’s most enigmatic theatres, The Curtain Playhouse.

Many thanks to The Stage for supporting this event and to the people of Hackney for coming out to see us! Thanks to all of the Time Truck sponsors Brookfield and Oxford, Stanhope, Cain International, Galliard Homes, TP Bennett, The Garfield Weston Foundation, Wates GivingThames Water and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

  • Shakespeare
  • Time Truck
  • Event
  • Community project
  • Placemaking

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