Shakespeare-aganza: Portraits, Relics And Theatres

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 28 months ago
Shakespeare-aganza: Portraits, Relics And Theatres
So it's the Globe, but at least we have a better idea what the theatre looked like than Will himself. Image courtesy of Kieran Lynam under a Creative Commons licence

Dear ol' Will is everywhere today: the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is unveiling a portrait thought to have been painted in the playwright's lifetime. There isn't a definitive portrait of the Bard done from life (though the National Gallery's Chandos Portrait is the likeliest contender) so this is causing some excited (and excitable) pointing... even though it's still not confirmed whether or not it's Shakespeare and probably never will be.

All this guesswork over what Shakespeare looked like is also making the archaeologists over at the Shoreditch site of the old Theatre flustered. They've found a piece of sixteenth century pottery with a painting of a bearded man with long hair and a ruff. Um. Alright, so the Theatre was where Will trod the boards and premiered plays like Romeo and Juliet, but we can't help wondering how many of the other - much more famous - actors also looked a bit rakish, what with them being actors and all. In fact, how many men in Tudor London full stop? Is this really an example of early merchandising? The sooner somebody invents a time machine and nips back to late sixteenth century Bankside with a polaroid camera, the better.

The Theatre site is, however, going to bequeath something a bit more tangible. The Tower Theatre Company have confirmed what we reported last summer, that they're going to build a 'no frills, hardworking place of entertainment' where the Elizabethan theatre once stood - although the stage may end up under a housing development. And if you can't wait for that, the London Word Festival brings an interesting take on Shakespeare to Curtain Road on Wednesday.

Last Updated 13 July 2016