A colloboration between MOLA and Cloak and Dagger Studios


In July 2010, the TDP visited the excavations taking place at the site of Shakespeare’s original London Playhouse in London, and now you can explore The Theatre yourself online! Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) and Cloak and Dagger Studios (CnD) have teamed up to create the first ever digital animation of the building, based entirely on archaeological evidence unearthed by MOLA and offering people today a chance to view the Theatre as Shakespeare would have himself in 1595. Explore The Theatre digital animation yourself HERE.

CnD employed 3D modelling software used in the film and visual effects industry to produce the virtual simulation of the Theatre. The animation is a highly detailed and versatile replica that takes users on a journey exploring every nook and cranny of the Theatre. The historical reconstruction is based entirely on real-world dimensions extrapolated from excavation work and has enabled archaeologists to explore how the playhouse would have been used by theatregoers and performers in the 16th century.

Initial reflections have highlighted the lack of light in the Theatre, which would have dictated when performances could be shown; the dimensions of the galleries have provided an insight into the views that the audience would have experienced; the constraints on space in the stalls reveals to us that conditions would have been extremely cramped for theatregoers.


The representation has also brought to light new questions about how the Theatre would have been used. Archaeological evidence for the stairwells only survived in part and therefore digital artists from CnD and archaeologists from MOLA did extensive research to build up a historically accurately and physically viable solution.

Digital Artist from Cloak and Dagger Studios, David Toon, said:

Whilst working on the 3D model of the Theatre we realised that we were the first people to have seen the inside since it was in use in Shakespearian times…quite an amazing thought. We hope that the simulation allows a wider audience to be inspired by this amazing archeological discovery and for specialist to be able to learn more about how the Theatre was used.”

Archaeologist, Julian Bowsher, from Museum of London Archaeology, said:

Archaeologists are extremely lucky – we get to physically touch the past, in this case, with Shakespeare’s Theatre of 1576. However, even for archaeologists it is sometimes hard to imagine what the remains we are excavating would have looked like in their original state. The digital animation MOLA and CnD have collaborated on is the final piece in the puzzle. It shows how important the work we archaeologists do and how the evidence we unearth can be used to reconstruct and understand our historic capital.”

Find out more:

A new book by Museum of London Archaeology, exploring Shakespeare’s London playhouses, is due to be released on July 19th 2012. For more information please visit MOLA’s publications page.