Plans to showcase Shoreditch Shakespearean theatre remains given go-ahead

A computer generated image of the visitor centre which is part of a larger £750m mixed-purpose devel

A computer generated image of the visitor centre which is part of a larger £750m mixed-purpose development called the Stage. Picture: Cain International - Credit: Cain International

Plans for a Shoreditch visitor centre exhibiting the excavated remains of one of London’s longest-running Elizabethan theatres have been given the green light.

The centre has been designed to honour the Curtain Playhouse’s heritage, and visitors to the venue will experience standing on a glass platform above the stage on which Shakespeare once acted and where productions of Romeo and Juliet and Henry V were performed during the 16th and 17th centuries.

READ MORE: ‘The Theatre’ in Shoreditch named one of 10 best archaeological discoveries of the decade by Historic England

Artefacts uncovered during the excavation will also be on display and a glass stage will sit at the building’s centre, constructed to float above the archeology remains, for evening performances and as a means of celebrating the arts.

Chris Brandon, architect at Perkins&Will, the firm designing the building, said: “Visitors and actors will be able to walk on the stage and stand in the footsteps of Shakespeare and his company, a truly extraordinary experience.”

The centre’s design will emulate the Elizabethan theatre on which it stands with corrugated, perforated and polished stainless steel panels for its facade, a reference to the folded fabric curtain once used to reveal and hide the theatre’s stage.

READ MORE: Excavation of Shakespeare’s Curtain Theatre begins in Shoreditch

A bird whistle discovered at the site, believed to be used as a sound effect for productions, led architects to also incorporate nightingales and larks into the building’s design.

The purpose-built visitor centre will sit at the heart of The Stage district, a £750m mixed-use scheme set to be completed in 2022 which will feature more than 400 new homes and 33,000 sq ft of retail space, including restaurants, cafes and offices.

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Jonathan Goldstein, chief executive of Cain International, the leading consortium of investors developing the site, said: “The Stage is putting Shoreditch firmly on the global map and this purpose-built centre, which has been shaped by the findings of the excavation, will ensure London’s original theatreland is not forgotten.

“We look forward to working with our partners in ensuring the visitor centre is not just a hub of history but a centre for the community, celebrating Shoreditch’s past, present and future.”