De Montfort University and the V&A Museum

“Many people are aware of the plays of William Shakespeare along with his famous playhouse, the Globe on London’s Bankside. The Shakespearean London Theatres (ShaLT) Knowledge Transfer project can now tell the full story behind the vast theatrical scene that thrilled London for over fifty years during the reigns of Elizabeth I, James I and Charles I. This was an early theatreland that thrived from the 1570s to the closure of all theatres in 1642 when the civil wars began. Without the playhouses of the Shakespearean period, the modern theatreland of London’s West End would not have been possible.

This project tells the illustrated story of the playhouses, entrepreneurs, audiences, actors and dramatists that made up this founding theatrical industry. Our printed Walking Map gives the locations of all of the London theatres, offering those interested five suggested walks to visit the original London sites, all within two miles’ radius of St Paul’s.

The ShaLT project also offers further products and activities: a downloadable version of the map; a smartphone App for use with the map; an open-access website; a series of expert lectures at the V&A Museum from April to August 2013; a series of short filmed documentaries, and a printed, fully-illustrated Guide.

The project launches at the V&A Museum on Tuesday 23rd April, with further lectures on selected Sundays between April and August.

For Further Details please visit the V&A’s ‘What’s On’ pages at

Lecture Details:

Join us for a season of expert lectures on the rich theatrical culture of Shakespearean playhouses that spread across Tudor and Stuart London from 1567–1642.

Location: The Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Lecture Theatre, V&A Museum

Discover playhouses from the Theatre at Shoreditch and Bankside’s Rose to the spectacular rise of venues like the Globe, Fortune and Blackfriars.  Presented by Shakespearean London Theatres (ShaLT)

Launch event: Tuesday 23 April, 14.00-16.30

Sunday lectures: 28 April- 25 August, 15.00–16.30

£5 per lecture, booking essential.  Book all 11 and receive a 20% discount.  Book online at the V&A link above or call 020 7942 2211

Outline of Lectures:

Tuesday 23 April: ‘Why Was the Globe Round?’ Introductory lecture by ShaLT Co-Investigator Professor Andrew Gurr (Reading University).  The ways in which this affected the presentation and hearing of the plays are considered here and in the season of lectures to follow.

Sunday 28 April: ‘The People’s Tragic Hero: Hieronimo and the Enduring Popularity of The Spanish Tragedy in the Early London Theatre’, Professor Peter Womack (University of East Anglia). This lecture asks what it was about the play that inspired audiences to love and admire the play for generations.

Sunday 5 May: ‘Ben Jonson, Bankside and the Blackfriars: A Biography of London Theatre Districts in the Seventeenth Century’, Professor Julie Sanders (University of Nottingham).  This lecture will provide a cultural and social geography of the two main theatre districts, from basic theatre architecture to the buildings and practices abutting the theatres themselves.

Sunday 19 May: ‘Stuck Up and Down About the City’: Playbills in Shakespeare’s London’, Professor Tiffany Stern (Oxford University).  This talk will explore the way that London was ‘textual’, being covered in advertisements. But what does a playbill convey about performance – and how does it relate to plays in print?

Sunday 2 June: ‘Virtual Reality and London’s Early Stages: Interacting with The Rose and Boar’s Head Theatres in 3-D’, Professor Joanne Tompkins (Queensland University).  This lecture demonstrates the conditions for performance in two of London’s early modern theatres, namely the Rose Theatre and the Boar’s Head Theatre.

Sunday 16 June: Rich City, Poor City: The Royal Exchange and Debtors’ Prison on the Early Modern Stage’, Professor Jean E. Howard (Columbia University).  This illustrated lecture will discuss how the theatre focused on particular places in early modern London in order to make vivid the economic changes that were transforming urban life.

Sunday 30 June: Fashioning the Face: Cosmetics, Glitter and Glamour at the Blackfriars Theatre’, Dr Farah Karim-Cooper (Shakespeare’s Globe).  This lecture will explore the relationship between cosmetic materials, candle light, spectators and the King’s Men repertory of plays in the Blackfriars theatre.

Sunday 14 July: ‘When torchlight made an artificial noon’: Light and Darkness in the Early Modern Indoor Playhouse, Then and Now’, Professor Martin White (Bristol University).  This illustrated lecture examines and explores how performances in the early modern indoor playhouse were lit, and how this lighting influenced playwrights, actors and audiences.

Sunday 28 July: The New Blackfriars:  What an Early Modern Playhouse Teaches Contemporary Theatre’, Professor Ralph Alan Cohen (Mary Baldwin College & the American Shakespeare Centre).  This illustrated talk will describe how re-creation of Shakespeare’s indoor theatre has not only helped inform our understanding of works written for early modern theatres, but has also inspired new thinking about the theatrical transaction with transformative implications for the roles of actor, audience, and director.

Sunday 11 August: 1+1=3: Why Shakespeare Collaborated with Other Playwrights’, Professor Gary Taylor (Florida State University).  Theatre as an art form originates in dialogue, and – as plays like Timon of Athens and All is True demonstrate – the interaction  between duelling artistic egos can inspire theatrical experiences that neither poet could have imagined on his own.

Sunday 25 August: ‘Exeunt Players: Why did the Playhouses Close?’, Professor Martin Butler (Leeds University).  This lecture will look at the reasons for their suppression and explores the impact of Civil War politics on play-going in London.

Please Note: The launch on 23rd April begins at 14.00 (with Professor Gurr’s lecture at 15.00) while all other lectures start at 15.00.


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