Sir Ian views the site with Taryn Nixon and Heather Knight of MOLA.

Actors visit Shoreditch site

23 March 2009

Actors Sir Ian McKellen and Paul McGann were among the visitors last week to a disused warehouse in Shoreditch. They had come to see the site where Museum of London Archaeology recently uncovered further remains of what is believed to be The Theatre, London’s first purpose-built playhouse.

Read the Museum of London press release about the Theatre

Sir Ian examines a 16th-century pottery fragment found on the site.

The visitors were shown the remains of what are believed to be the foundations of the inner wall of the polygonal theatre. They also viewed the sloping gravel surface butting up against the inner wall; it is thought that this is the remains of the yard, where the audience stood.

From L to R: Film director Barry Bliss, Museum of London Archaeology contract manager Jo Lyon, actor Paul McGann, Jeff Kelly and Dinah Irvine of the Tower Theatre Company.

The actors were delighted to be standing in the location where Romeo and Juliet almost certainly received its premiere. Paul McGann said it was an experience he would never forget.

Taryn Nixon, Heather Knight and Sir Ian McKellen.

The Tower Theatre Company, one of London’s leading non-professional theatre organisations, plans to build a new theatre on the site. It is hoped that the planning process will begin in April 2009, with the theatre ready to open in 2012.