The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0087 Sunday, 17 January 1999.
Date: Sunday, January 17, 1999
Subject: The Theatre
Many have commented on not being able to retrieve the article in the
Times regarding the Theatre. I too could not directly use the link
http://www.the-times.co.uk/cgi-bin/BackIssue?3152373 - which is
incidentally correct. Here is what one must to do get direct access to
this article and The Times, The Sunday Times, and TLS:
1. You must first register by going to www.the-time.co.uk and
2. After you have registered, you must go to the date, in this case,
January 11, 1999.
3. Then because the search engine at The Times site is not currently
installed, you have to go to the index for the day and locate the
January 11 1999
Shakespeare's first theatre identified
THE site of Shakespeare's first theatre may have been pinpointed, not
far from Liverpool Street Station in London. The playhouse, called The
Theatre, was known to be in the Shoreditch area, but an archaeologist
has now documented an exact site as part of an English Heritage survey
of probable surviving remains of Shakespearean playhouses. Simon
Blatherwick believes that substantial archaeological remains of The
Theatre may survive. "This is a hugely important site," he said.
Mr Blatherwick co-directed excavation of the Rose, the first such
playhouse to be discovered, in Southwark. Before that it had been
generally assumed that no remains of Elizabethan playhouses survived.
The Theatre was built in 1576, and several Shakespeare plays, including
Richard III and Romeo and Juliet, were first staged there. Its
significance is the greater because, in December 1598, the players who
owned the building began to take it down.
In Southwark the timbers were used to build the Globe, the theatre most
associated with Shakespeare, which has been reconstructed under the late
Sam Wanamaker's direction. The Globe's design was based on its
precursor, so the remains of The Theatre have great potential. Today the
site is occupied by two Victorian structures at the junction of Curtain
Road and New Inn Yard. Mr Blatherwick's investigations suggest that the
structures do not have cellars deep enough to have destroyed the
A wealth of documents exists, mainly from lawsuits between the actors'
company and the landlord of The Theatre's site, and also from the
construction of the Globe.
Several other playhouse sites of the Shakespearean age also have high
archaeological potential, the survey suggests. Among them is that of the
Hope, built in 1613 near the Rose as a theatre and bear-baiting arena,
and where Ben Jonson's Bartholomew Fair was first performed. Nearly two
dozen theatre sites have been located, including one near St Paul's
Cathedral, where the offices of The Times stood for 200 years.
"The probable archaeological survival of so many Elizabethan and
Jacobean playhouses means we could be on the brink of a revolution in
theatre studies," said Jean Wilson, author of The Archaeology of
Shakespeare. "We may learn the plan of Shakespeare's 'Wooden O'."
By Norman Hammond, archaeology
Copyright 1999 Times Newspapers Ltd.