- archaeology - culture - London - theatre - UK
The remains of a London theatre where William Shakespeare's early plays including "Romeo And Juliet" were first performed have been discovered by archaeologists, a museum said Wednesday.
Shakespeare appeared at The Theatre in Shoreditch, east London, as an actor with a troupe called The Lord Chamberlain's Men, which also performed his efforts as a playwright there.
"Richard III", "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "The Merchant Of Venice" are among the other plays likely to have premiered at the theatre, according to the Museum of London, whose team made the discovery.
After a tenancy dispute in 1599, the owners of The Theatre dismantled it during the night and its timbers were used to construct the Globe Theatre by the River Thames which became the home of Shakespeare's plays.
But now Museum of London archaeologists have rediscovered the original footings or groundwork of the polygonal Shoreditch venue -- ironically on a site being prepared for the construction of a new theatre.
"It's a theatre that's been known about for a long time but no remains have ever been found," museum spokesman Tim Morley told AFP.
"This is the theatre that the company of players that Shakespeare was part of first performed in and when he started writing, the company would have performed his plays."
It is planned that the remains will be kept in place as the new theatre is built.
Jeff Kelly, chairman of the Tower Theatre Company, which is constructing the new venue, added: "The discovery that we shall be building a 21st century playhouse where Shakespeare played and where some of Shakespeare's plays must first have been performed is a huge inspiration."
Archaeologists will now start trying to find out more detail about how the venue looked and hope it will help them to increase their knowledge of London theatres during the reign of queen Elizabeth I.