Shakespearo, hero: how Hackney will Bard it up

Architect John Drew, in Pringle Brandon Perkins office 2013, designed the Stage Building for Plough Yard Developments ©
Supplied photograph
The under-used land at Shoreditch
Hackney council plaque near Shakespeare site in Shoreditch London © 2012
Cited: council plaque

LAND IN Shoreditch that has been languishing unloved for years is on the verge of giving Hackney a world-beating heritage site.

The 1-hectare block is covered in a scrappy collection of buildings, pictured at left. Below them, however, are the recently excavated remains of a Shakespearean theatre, and a £500 million development to be built over them has been designed to showcase the findings of archaeologists.

The scheme’s architect, John Drew, pictured at top, told Loving Dalston: “This will put Hackney on the international tourist map.”

Indifference by Hackney council and uncurious scholars resulted in the theatre history of Shoreditch being overlooked for decades until a Museum of London team started digging at the presumed site of the “Curtayne”, which was built in 1577, almost certainly premiered Romeo and Juliet and Henry V and was where William Shakespeare (1564-1616) probably acted. (Most Shakepseare information is vague.)

Supplied pic
Dig this: drawing the Curtain into view

Now, as Loving Dalston was the first to report, a complex of buildings will include a two-floor building to enclose the ruins and include a 160-seat open-air auditorium, along with an exhibition on Elizabethan theatre.

The centrepiece of the development of flats, offices,shops, restaurants and bars will be a 40-floor tower.

Drew, managing partner of Pringle Brandon Perkins and Will, said: “It would be great if the performance space were used for all sorts of purposes, such as music, as well as theatre.”

Julian Bowsher, senior archaeologist for Museum of London Archaeology, has written Shakespeare’s London Theatreland (Mus. Lon. Arch., £20).

Theatre-lovers and anyone living or working in the capital will enjoy the paperback, which is replete with revelation of the rich yet still not widely known theatrical heritage of northeast London and the district around the present Globe Theatre on the Thames south side.

Shakespeare: © Mus Lon

David Altheer 201113

* Tip: Shakespeare’s London Theatreland is an ideal Christmas gift for the Londoner with an enquiring mind.

* Planning application 2012/3871 has been approved by Hackney council for the area bounded by Curtain Road, Hewett Street, Great Eastern Street, Fairchild Place, Plough Yard and Hearn Street, London EC2A.

* Shakespeare it up, baby: Stage looks set for Tower; Bard tower rises in Shoreditch; Shakespeare, Ditchie dude; How Hackney will Bard it up 

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