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Curtain is up on plans for Shakespeare’s historic Shoreditch theatre site

PUBLISHED: 14:59 11 June 2015 | UPDATED: 15:04 11 June 2015

Development of Bard family's site in Shoreditch where Shakepeare's Curtain Theatre once stood

Development of Bard family's site in Shoreditch where Shakepeare's Curtain Theatre once stood

Cain Hoy Enterprises

The curtain has risen on plans for a major commercial scheme on the site where Shakespeare’s original playhouse has been unearthed in London’s East End.

Archaeologists in 2008 unearth remains of Burbage's 16th century Theatre where William Shakespeare (inset) first actedArchaeologists in 2008 unearth remains of Burbage's 16th century Theatre where William Shakespeare (inset) first acted

The plans for a development known as ‘The Stage’ has the remains of The Bard’s 16th century Curtain Theatre where Romeo and Juliet was first performed.

Cain Hoy Enterprises has announced it is leading a consortium of investors to develop the site in partnership with the appropriately-named Bard family and their Plough Yard Developments who own the two-and-a-half acre site at Shoreditch.

The consortium gets a 250-year lease while the freehold is being retained by ther Bard family.

“The scheme celebrates the historical and cultural importance of Shakespeare’s Curtain theatre,” Sarah Bard of The Estate Office in Shoreditch said. “The Stage will be a world destination as a home to the very first example of Elizabethan theatre.”

Outline of Burbage's original Theatre unearthed at Shoreditch in 2008 [photo: Museum of London]Outline of Burbage's original Theatre unearthed at Shoreditch in 2008 [photo: Museum of London]

Planning consent has been granted for a £750m mixed commercial and residential use including 250,000sq ft of offices, retail and leisure activities and a 40-storey apartment tower.

The remains of the theatre are also being excavated to be preserved as part of the development, creating a tourist attraction with an international heritage centre.

Howard Kauffman from Allsop property agency which advised the consortium said: “The scheme will provide the next generation of office accommodation in Shoreditch, a market which is massively under-supplied.”

Shakespeare opened his Curtain Theatre at Plough Yard, next to what became Curtain Road today.

It is also just a stone’s throw from the spot where Museum of London archaeologists in 2008 unearthed the remains of the playhouse where Shakespeare began his acting career where he and contemporaries like James Burbage would have hung out in Elizabethan London.

The Theatre, predating The Curtain, was London’s and probably the world’s first purpose-built playhouse opened by Burbage in 1576, when Will Shakespeare was just 14 before he came to London. Shakespeare first trod the boards at The Theatre in his 20s and had his first plays performed there.

The site was being prepared in 2008 ironically for a new theatre, for Tower Theatre Company, when remains of Burbage’s playhouse were discovered.

To quote the Bard: “The wheel hath come full circle.”


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