As archaeologists from the MOLA prepare to begin the excavation of the Curtain Theatre, a series of events, lectures and walking tours for members of the public has been announced.

The events, part of the Shakespeare400 celebrations, will see experts in Shakespeare, theatre, history and archaeology sharing their knowledge about aspects including the early modern theatrical scene, Shakespeare in London, rogues and villains of Shoreditch’s theatres, and eating and drinking in Shakespeare’s theatreland, with contributions from BBC historian Michael Wood, Prof. Stanley Wells, and actor/author Ben Crystal.

400 years after William Shakespeare’s death, the events will give an insight into the past of the first theatre district and a historically significant site at the heart of London’s Shoreditch. When finished, the Stage will feature the excavated and preserved remains of Shakespeare’s Curtain Theatre, a heritage and visitor centre, and displays of artefacts discovered during the dig.

p79 Shakepseare bankside reconstruction by Faith Vardy (c) MOLA

Shoreditch – The Earliest London Theatreland a talk with Archaeologist Julian Bowsher

Date: Thursday 31 March – 6.15pm – 7.45pm

Although there were a number of theatrical venues throughout London from the 1550s, the earliest concentration developed in Shoreditch in the 1570s. It was situated only a few minutes’ walk from the City, on a major route to the north, well-to-do houses in nearby Hoxton, and home to many of the leading playwrights and actors – all centred around two of the earliest successful playhouses in London. This talk explores these relationships as well as its history and development – and what archaeology has revealed.

Venue: St Botolph’s Hall, Bishopsgate, London, EC2M 3TL

Price: £5 Book Now


In Search of Shakespeare with BBC Historian Michael Wood

Date: Tuesday 5 April – 12.15pm – 1.45pm

The BBC presenter and author of In Search of Shakespeare will give his own personal interpretation of the life and works of William Shakespeare based on his detailed experience and passion for the plays and poems alongside his extensive research into the biography of the historically elusive playwright.

Venue: St Botolph’s Hall, Bishopsgate, London, EC2M 3TL

Price: £5 Book Now


The Early Modern Theatrical Scene in London, in Conversation with Prof Duncan Salkeld and Dr Andy Kesson

Date: Monday 11 April – 7.30pm – 9pm

A discussion, debate, questions and answers session on the place and nature of theatre during the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries between two academics from the universities of Roehampton and Chichester

Venue: The Rose Theatre, 56 Park St, Southwark, London SE1 9AR

Price: £8 Book Now


Henry V, the Curtain, Shakespeare and the Manipulation of History

Date: Monday 18 April – 6.15pm – 7.45pm

A look at the real life historical events of the Agincourt campaign of 1415 contrasted against the authorship of Shakespeare’s most resilient play which was written against the background of late 16th century political events and has continued to be produced to reflect contemporary life.

Venue: Mortimer Wheeler House, 46 Eagle Wharf Road, London, N1 7ED

Price: £5 Book Now


Shoreditch – a Shakespearean Suburb? Walk with Senior Archaeologist Julian Bowsher

Date: 23 April or 5th May

The walk will start at St Leonard’s church, the ancient parish centre from where we can survey the growth of the settlement, situated only a few minutes’ walk from the City. We then meander southwards visiting the sites of the two major playhouses, the Theatre and the Curtain, as well as the streets, homes taverns and less savoury “entertainments” frequented by the leading playwrights and actors of the day.

Start Point: The Stage archaeology space, Hewett Street, EC2A 3NN

Price: £5 23rd April5 May


Shakespearean Performance in Modern London: Discussions and Performances on the Shakespeare in Modern Theatre

Date: Monday 25 April – 7.30pm – 9pm

Presentations by directors Duncan Moore, Bryon Fear and Tom Salyers alongside Pepe Pryke from the Rose Theatre Trust about recent productions of Shakespeare plays and how they are relevant to life in modern London. Each presentation will also be complimented by excerpts from the plays performed by cast members.

Venue: The Rose Theatre, 56 Park St, Southwark, London SE1 9AR

Price: £8 Book Now


The Curtain and Crime: Rogues and Villains of Elizabethan Theatre Walk

Date: Thursday 28 April – 6.30pm – 8pm

The walk will start at the site of the Curtain Playhouse and will be a tour based around the crime and general roguishness associated with the Curtain, its players and the Shoreditch theatrical scene.

Start point: The Stage archaeology space, Hewett Street, EC2A 3NN

Price: £5 Book Now


Shakespeare, Language and the Elizabethan Mind with Actor and Author Ben Crystal

Date: Thursday 5 May – 6.15pm – 7.45pm

Ben Crystal, the actor and author of Shakespeare’s Words and Shakespeare on Toast, dives into the hearts, minds, ears and words of Shakespeare’s world and asks what would it have been like to go to the theatre in Shakespeare’s time? How did his plays tap into his audience’s views on life and love? How did the social, cultural and political developments of the time shape his writing?

Venue: St Botolph’s Hall, Bishopsgate, London, EC2M 3TL

Price: £8 Book Now


Eating and Drinking in Shakespeare’s Theatreland – the Archaeology of Entertainment

Date: Friday 6 May – 6.15pm – 7.45pm

This talk aims to explore the wider entertainment scene that was inextricably linked with the theatre in Shakespeare’s time, using the latest evidence from archaeologically excavated sites to throw light on the many and varied aspects of theatre-going that Elizabethan and Jacobean Londoners would have enjoyed, from smoking and drinking ale to eating bar snacks.

Venue: Mortimer Wheeler House, 46 Eagle Wharf Road, London, N1 7ED

Price: £5 Book Now


Playing the Curtain with Dr Lucy Munro

Date: Friday 13 May – 12.15pm – 1.45pm

From the plays of Shakespeare and Jonson in the 1590s to those of Dekker, Ford and Rowley in the 1620s, the Curtain was one of the most enduring performance places in early modern London. This talk will explore some highlights of this long history, from Jonson’s humours comedy and Shakespeare’s romantic comedies and histories to the topical story of The Witch of Edmonton and lost plays such as Henry the Unable, The Plantation of Virginia and The Man in the Moon Drinks Claret.

Venue: Mortimer Wheeler House, 46 Eagle Wharf Road, London, N1 7ED

Price: £5 Book Now


The Curtain and Crime: Rogues and Villains of Elizabethan Theatre Walk

Date: Saturday 14 May – 6.30pm – 8pm

The walk will start at the site of the Curtain Playhouse and will be a tour based around the crime and general roguishness associated with the Curtain, its players and the Shoreditch theatrical scene.

Start point: The Stage archaeology space, Hewett Street, EC2A 3NN

Price: £5 Book Now


Shakespeare in London with Prof Stanley Wells

Date: Friday 20 May – 12.15pm – 1.45pm

An opportunity to hear the author of Shakespeare & Co., Shakespeare: For All Time and the Honorary President of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust discuss the professional and personal links with the capital that the Bard made. In what ways was London important to Shakespeare? How was he involved with national dramas? What do we know of his personal relationships with Londoners?

Venue: St Botolph’s Hall, Bishopsgate, London, EC2M 3TL

Price: £5 Book Now


Digging Shakespeare’s Shoreditch: Excavating London’s First Theatreland

Date: Wednesday 25 May – Doors 6.15pm – 7.45pm

MOLA’s excavations on the sites of the Theatre playhouse (built in 1576) and the site of the Curtain playhouse (in use by 1577). Both playhouses had a fascinating life, intrinsically linked with the story of William Shakespeare. We will see how, 400 years after the death of Shakespeare, archaeology is in the unique position of being able to add new details to the story of these iconic buildings with particular reference to the very latest findings from the excavation on the site of the Curtain playhouse.

Venue: St Botolph’s Hall, Bishopsgate, London, EC2M 3TL

Price: £5 Book Now

8. Trial excavation at Curtain Theatre site (c) MOLA

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One comment on “A host of Shakespearean talks and walks announced
  1. OMG. This is precisely what I’ve been looking for in planning my trip to London in April. Sadly, only one date coincides with my trip, but happily I’ve booked that one date. Please do let me know if any events are added or presented on multiple dates. I’ll be in London April 12-15 and 21-28. PLEASE NOTIFY ME IF YOU KNOW OF ANY OTHER SIMILAR PRESENTATIONS. Thank you.
    Warm regards,
    R David Robinson

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