Behind Shakespeare's Curtain
Before there was Shakespeare's Globe, there was Shakespeare's Curtain. Well, not his actually, not the way the Globe was Shakespeare's because he was a major shareholder, but the newly discovered Curtain, built in Shoreditch, just outside what were the city limits in 1577, is where Romeo and Juliet and Henry V had their premieres. It is in Henry V that Shakespeare refers to the Curtain as "this wooden O." The Curtain and its neighbor, the Theatre, were necessarily outside the city limits because of legal limitations on places of entertainment in London which, of course, is why the Globe was built on the South Bank of the Thames in Southwark. All, however, were walking or ferry distance from the center of the city.
Now, with the discovery by builders of an exterior wall which is indubitably part of the Curtain, the developers have decided to build an outdoor 250-seat auditorium with a glass-enclosed museum to preserve its original features. It is in London's least lovely borough, Hackney, although having a world-class heritage site there might help, and the plan to build a mixed residential and commercial development around the Curtain, to be named The Stage, is already raising hackles among Shoreditch's less theatrical residents.
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