The stage is set at Shakespeare's Curtain Theatre
As the detailed 3 month excavation of Shakespeare’s Curtain Theatre comes to a close and development of The Stage gets underway, recent discoveries are poised to completely transform our understanding of the evolution of Elizabethan theatres.
|The Curtain Theatre [Credit: (c) MOLA]|
The early stages of the dig confirmed that the theatre was not the polygonal structure we had anticipated, but this latest set of discoveries give us more detail about this early Elizabethan theatre. The discovery of an oblong stage which is far longer than expected and the mysterious passageway offers a tantalising glimpse into the secrets that are still to be uncovered. The MOLA teams is now embarking on post-excavation work to further explore the relationship between the unusual shape of the stage, the production and staging and the mysterious backstage areas.
|16th century money pot finials [Credit: (c) MOLA]|
Throughout findings, archaeologists have also been able to tell that The Curtain Theatre is one of earliest Elizabethan playhouses where people actually paid money to see performances and be entertained. We know this because fragments of ceramic money boxes have been found. These fragments are a really exciting find because the pots would have been used to collect the entry fees from theatregoers and then been taken to an office to be smashed and the money counted. This office was known as the ‘box office’, which is actually the origin of the term we still use today!
|A Bartmann jug medallion [Credit: (c) MOLA]|
We now know so much more about the theatre than ever before and these discoveries offer a rare and exciting opportunity to explore the new questions they pose.
|Archaeologist records the remains at the Curtain Theatre [Credit: (c) MOLA]|
A display of the finds will sit alongside the theatre remains as part of a cultural and visitor centre at the heart of the completed development, which will also feature 33,000 sq ft of retail, over 200,000 sq ft of office space, more than 400 homes, and over an acre of vibrant public space including a performance area and a park.
Source: Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) [November 11, 2016]