Theatre News

Work begins on Shakespeare playhouse excavation

Archaeologists hope to find out more about Shakespearean performance from this little-documented theatre

Ed Vaizey visits the excavation site
Ed Vaizey visits the excavation site
© Adrian Pope

Archaeologists have broken ground at a site in Shoreditch, where the remains of one of Shakespeare’s least historically documented playhouses are known to be buried.

Excavations on the site of the 16th century The Curtain commenced yesterday with a visit from Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture. On the importance of the work, he said: "The 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death is a fitting time to be excavating this significant historical site.

"Shoreditch today is one of London’s most vibrant locations, and its prominence as a theatrical hotspot during Shakespeare’s time highlights this area’s enduring cultural appeal."

Previous explorations indicated the remains are 'exceptionally well preserved' and it is hoped the current work will give experts a better idea of the physical structure of the theatre, its uses and even performances in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Upon completion, the remains of the theatre will be preserved alongside any artefacts discovered and displayed as part of a cultural and visitor centre at The Stage, a new £750m development scheme in Shoreditch.

Senior Archaeologist Heather Knight, leading the dig on behalf of MOLA, said: "We hope to find out more about the structure of the theatre – where Henry V was first performed – which will give us a clearer indication of how Elizabethan playhouses were used and the evolution of theatre."

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