Thursday, 07 Aug, 2008 Current Events

Possible Theater Where Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" Debuted Discovered in London


Archaeologists at the Museum of London managed to discover what they say is the possible theater where such masterpieces "The Merchant of Venice" and "Romeo and Juliet" made their debut and where their author, William Shakespeare himself worked.

The finding was accidentally discovered by workers who excavated the site of a vacant garage. Shortly after that museum archaeologists arrived at the site to make sure that "the theatre" was not destroyed. They were amazed of the discovery.

"We were there, scratching our heads, looking into the trenches, thinking, 'this could be it. So we did some more research, and then we found the angled walls. And we all went, "Oh my gosh, this should be it, " said Jo Lyon, a senior archaeologist at the Museum of London.

Some other theatres constructed in the same era also have angled walls, which means that the finding is important. For a long time archaeologists considered that the possible location of the Theatre was the one they are working at the moment. Although there is a detailed description of the Theatre's location, there is no visual evidence.

"It's in the right place, it's at the right angle to be a polygonal shape. It's a pretty high possibility," mentioned Lyon.

The finding could complete the collection of open-air theatres where Shakespeare's plays were staged. It is worth mentioning that the possible Theatre was erected in 1576 and was the place where Shakespeare's troupe played during the 1590s. The set of open-air theatres features The Rose theater, found in 1989 in Bankside, south of the River Thames, and the Globe theater located near.

The troupe of the famous poet and playwright, which included Lord Chamberlain's Men, started activating in The Theatre in 1590s. Previously they performed on stage at the Rose theatre. According to Martin Wiggins, from the Shakespeare Institute at the University of Birmingham, a shake in the London theatre scene pushed the troupe to move.

Shakespeare's team had to move again in 1597 after the dispute with the landlord. The ground where The Theatre stood was not owned by the troupe. However, Lord Chamberlain's Men were the owners of the materials the theatre was constructed with. Thus they just dismantled the theatre and shifted it south, across the River Thames. In the new location the theater was re-erected and the company named it the Globe.

The foundation of The Theater, however, stayed in east London, where the excavations took place, which brings archaeologists to the idea that they have found this foundation.

Wiggins said: "The first thing I want to know about it is what the foundations can tell us about the architecture. How big was it? How does it compare with the Rose? How does it compare with the Globe? How similar are they?"

He mentioned that a better understanding of what the construction looked like might help Shakespearean scholars find out more about the history of the playwright during this particular period.

"The size of the theater will have an impact on the way the play is written," he said, adding that other works possibly played on the stage of The Theatre were: "Henry IV," "Richard II," "King John," and "the Merry Wives of Windsor".

Source: Washington Post

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