Ancient Sound Effect Device Discovered At Shakespeare Theatre

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 24 months ago
Ancient Sound Effect Device Discovered At Shakespeare Theatre

Part of a ceramic 16th century bird whistle — possibly used as a sound effect device for the first performance of Romeo and Juliet — is among early archaeological finds at the site of the former Curtain Theatre in Shoreditch.

William Shakespeare may have first staged his classic tragedy at the Curtain Theatre — currently being excavated by archaeologists from (Museum of London Archaeology) MOLA — in the late 16th century. Romeo and Juliet includes numerous references to bird song, such as: "That birds would sing and think it were not night."

The whistle, which may well have been used as a sound effect for early performances of Romeo and Juliet

MOLA has also excavated personal items, including a bone comb — quite possibly used by Shakespearian actors backstage as they prepared to perform.

Other amazing discoveries by MOLA include brick walls up to 1.5m high, and the realisation that the theatre was rectangular in shape, not — as previously thought — octagonal.

MOLA has been working on the site for a month now, and will continue to do so for another month. The public can book tours to visit the site on Fridays from 20 May-24 June.

A display of the finds will then sit alongside the theatre remains as part of a cultural and visitor centre at the heart of The Stage, a new £750m mixed-use development on Curtain Road.

Book a tour of the excavation site on MOLA's website.

Last Updated 17 May 2016