• JUser::_load: Unable to load user with id: 62
  • JUser::_load: Unable to load user with id: 71
You are here: Home » The Theatre »
Monday, 21 May 2018

Cloak and Dagger Studios are a small but passionate digital creation studio.

Website URL: http://www.cndstudios.co.uk Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Step inside Shakespeare’s first theatre- Press Release

Thursday, 21 June 2012 15:25 Published in Media

Step inside Shakespeare’s first theatre


Cloak and Dagger Studios (CnD) and Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) have teamed up to create the first ever digital animation of Shakespeare’s original London playhouse, The Theatre. The CGI animation is based entirely on archaeological evidence unearthed by MOLA and offers people today a chance to view the Theatre as Shakespeare would have himself in 1595.



Images from the animation feature in Shakespeare and Us presented by Simon Schama as part of the BBC’s Shakespeare Season.


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.”


More details please download the Press Release Attachment below:


Shakespeare’s London theatreland

Thursday, 21 June 2012 11:48 Published in About

Archaeology, history and drama

By Julian Bowsher

Shakespeare’s London theatreland

This guide to the unique theatrical venues of London, from 1567, when the first playhouse was built, to 1642, when Parliament closed them down, sets out the rich dramatic history of this period in relation to the latest exciting archaeological evidence. The book also details the people involved – the builders, actors, playwrights and audiences – what they wore and what they ate, where they drank, where they fought, where they lived and died. There are theatrical quotes and jokes, and illustrations old and new, while a series of walks explores different areas of today’s London, where glimpses of Shakespeare’s London can still be caught.


Click here to Buy Online

Click here to read extracts from the book

Publisher: Museum of London Archaeology
Format: Softback, 165 x 230mm
Extent: 250pp, illustrated in colour
Price: £20
ISBN: 978-1-907586-12-5
Publication date: July 2012
Reader interest: Medieval Archaeology & History
Language & Literature / Drama
Distributor: Oxbow/MoLA



Actors visit Shoreditch site

Tuesday, 19 June 2012 10:01 Published in Media

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


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

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.


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.

Listen to a radio interview here with Senior Archaeologist Heather Knight where she walks us through MOLA's excavation of Shakespeare's Curtain Theatre.

The Theatre

Tuesday, 27 July 2010 17:14 Published in About


The Theatre, built in 1576, was the first of the famous London playhouses built in the now iconic polygonal form. Its fame has been further assured because William Shakespeare both acted there and wrote for it. For historians, the Theatre is important because of the wealth of documentary information, much of it derived from legal disputes. These papers also helped to more-or-less pinpoint its location years before archaeologists finally uncovered it in 2008.

Senior Archaeologist Heather Knight describing the site to a visiting groupIts history begins when James Burbage, a joiner turned actor, took out a 21-year lease on 13 April 1576 on a site that lay within the precinct of the former Holywell Priory, in the prosperous settlement of Shoreditch. Here, Burbage intended to ‘erect or set up a theatre or playing place’. Burbage was never very sound financially and brought in his brother-in-law John Brayne to augment his costs by ‘hiring workmen, providing timber and other needful things for the building of the said Theatre’. Nevertheless, they were putting on plays there even before the building was completed in order to gain some income. In the end, the building cost about £700, which was a fortune at the time.


The Theatre was certainly open by 1 August 1577, when it came to the notice of the Privy Council, and there are numerous references to ‘disturbances’ from this time onwards which suggests an early popularity. There is no complete record of which acting companies, all under the patronage of rich aristocrats, performed there, but they included Lord Leicester’s Company – in which Burbage was the lead player, Lord Oxford’s who were there in 1580 and the Queen’s Company there from 1583. Richard Tarlton, the leading comic of the Queen’s, thrilled the Theatre’s audience by his lewd ditties that often got him into trouble. The Lord Admiral’s Company was certainly there in 1590, when they probably performed Christopher Marlowe’s Dr Faustus, but the most famous troupe to perform there, from at least 1594, were the Lord Chamberlain’s company, headed by Burbage’s son Richard and including Shakespeare amongst its actors. Indeed many of Shakespeare’s early plays were first performed here, such as Hamlet in about 1595.

The building

Occasional references in the legal papers indicate that the Theatre was a typical timber-framed structure of the time. Timber and ‘such like things’ appear to have been reused from nearby buildings and £40 worth of iron work was used. There were frequent mentions of galleries entered by stairs through a door and with ‘upper rooms’. There was a ‘Theatre yard’ in the centre and an ‘attiring house or place where the players make themselves ready’ backstage. About £40 was spent on ‘building and repairing’ the playhouse in the winter of 1591–2. There are no details of this work but it is likely that improvements were made in order to maintain and enhance the Theatre’s prominence in London’s theatreland. Indeed the five-year-old Rose playhouse on the Bankside was undergoing greatly more expensive refurbishment at precisely the same time.

A fragment of Surrey-Hampshire border whiteware, excavated at the Theatre, with a design showing a bearded Tudor figureThe polygonal building had an outer and an inner wall which supported the three tiers of galleries, the more expensive seating. There was an open yard in the centre which had standing room only. The excavations found only a few fragments of the outer wall, comprising strong stone or brick supports for the main upright timbers. There was more of the inner wall, defined by brick footings, with a gap where the access from the yard into the galleries would have been. The surface of the yard was of hard-packed gravel but was somewhat worn after 400 years. Traces of what might be the edge of the stage were found at the eastern end, opposite the main entrance.

Although the excavations did not uncover the whole building, there was enough to work out that it would have been a polygon of 14 sides with an external diameter of about 72ft (22m). These dimensions are very similar to those found at the Rose excavation. According to witness statements in the Theatre’s legal papers, John Griggs, the carpenter who built the Rose, knew the Theatre very well and almost certainly based the later Rose on it.

The cobbled yard in front of the Theatre being recordedOutside the Theatre, the excavations also found buildings to the north-east including a fine cobbled yard surface, which may have served as a forecourt perhaps opening into New Inn Broadway. To the south-west there were traces of the ‘Great Barne’ which was described as so decrepit that it had to be propped up by the new Theatre.

The end

The lease on the Theatre site was due to end in April 1597 but negotiations for a renewal became deadlocked and the Burbages decided to recoup some of their losses by dismantling the Theatre for its building material in December 1598. The timbers were taken to a new site on the south bank and were reused as components when a new, much bigger playhouse named the Globe was finally built in 1599. However, the idea that the old Theatre was dismantled overnight, transported to the Bankside and then re-erected, is a myth because we know that the Globe was much larger and more up to date.

The importance of the Theatre for archaeologists is that we can now see a development in the famous playhouses of Shakespeare’s London by comparing it with what we know from other excavations.

However, what survives on archaeological sites is often little more than the foundations. This collaboration between MOLA and Cloak and Dagger studios has provided an opportunity to explore how the Theatre may have worked in three dimensions and has provided a new insight into its architecture as well as its dramatic usage.

This is an edited extract from Julian Bowsher’s new MOLA book ‘Shakespeare’s London Theatreland’


Julian Bowsher © MOLA

The Archaeologists

Tuesday, 27 July 2010 16:55 Published in About
In 2007, Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) was commissioned to carry out an archaeological assessment of a site in Shoreditch. It was known that London’s first purpose-built Elizabethan playhouse, the Theatre, had stood on or very near the site. Documentary research led to a fieldwork evaluation, during which small, targeted trenches were excavated to assess the level and extent of any archaeological remains. It was found that archaeological remains did indeed survive and that they included a section of the foundations of the Elizabethan playhouse. Parts of the buildings that would have stood in the outer court of Holywell Priory, which was closed by Henry VIII a generation before the Theatre was built, were also located.

As a result, MOLA undertook a three-month-long excavation in the summer of 2010. By mapping the Theatre remains and excavating some of the deposits formed during its use, MOLA was able to accurately locate the playhouse for the first time and find out more of its history, whilst leaving its physical remains in place.

Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) provides expert archaeological and built heritage services to help our property industry clients build for the future. Our team of 200 professional archaeologists and specialists has been excavating and researching sites across the UK for nearly 40 years, and we have offices in London, Birmingham and Manchester. The far-reaching, educational results of MOLA’s work, funded by development through the planning process, literally make history.

Visit www.mola.org.uk, contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or follow us: @MOLArchaeology

The 3D Studio

Tuesday, 27 July 2010 16:08 Published in About

In the Autumn of 2010 we contacted MOLA about a completely different project. We were very keen to get onto a project that would allow us to showcase our skills and hopefully give us our break in the historical/archaeological reconstruction field. Initially contacting MOLA in relation to the excavations the team had been involved in all over London to enable the different Olympic venues to be built.

That project proved unsuitable but MOLA were very interested in working with us on the recently uncovered Theatre, historically known as Shakespeare's first! Obviously we jumped at the chance to work on such a high profile project with an organisation such as MOLA.

After an initial meeting with some of the team we had enough information to go away and start building the Theatre. We started by setting the base line for quality, ensuring that both teams shared the same vision for the project. Deciding upon an animation showing the Theatre in its priory surroundings and going into great detail about the interior and paying homage to the building itself.

Screenshot in Vue 10

We felt strongly that the animation needed to include both internal and external shots of the theatre, giving it context both to the foundations that were found during the excavation and the surroundings during its heyday in 1595. Using data supplied by the team in London to recreate the building, regular discussions between CnD and MOLA were vital to ensuring the intricate details of the building were retained. Recreating anything in Virtual space requires some sort of base understanding of how things would work in reality. It would not look at all realistic if tiles or wooden beams were too big, or if the frame of the building was not built correctly. A shot to show the different possible panel configurationsEverything had to have a grounding with currently accepted knowledge about the wooden frame buildings of the time. Many hours were spent pouring over photos and reference material to come up with the best approach. Throughout the project we produced mood boards of all kinds, vegetation studies, animation stills, brick texture studies all to give the team at MOLA a better understanding of our direction.

Recreating the Theatre in virtual space has raised many questions. It has fuelled many discussions between CnD and the archaeologists at MOLA about how the building was used, how did people flow through the building? Was it really this dark on the lower floor? Where did the stairs go and how did they look? This showed that the collaborative project and CG reconstruction enhanced the archaeological process already undertaken at MOLA.

Piecing the shots together in After Effects CS5The opportunity for us to work with the team at MOLA on such an epic project was something we jumped at. With the worlds eyes on the UK with the Olympics and Shakespeare season we saw the project as a great platform to showcase our work and promote our skills in the field of historical CGI reconstructions.

The Vegetation we used in some of the exterior shotsIf you are interested to find out more or speak to us about any projects you have in mind we would love to hear from you.

Visit www.cndstudios.co.uk, contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or follow us: @lee_at_cnd


Tuesday, 27 July 2010 14:57 Published in About
All images are under full UK Copyright © 2012 Collaboration between Museum of London Archaeology and Cloak and Dagger Studios

Theatre appearance on BBC documentary with Simon Schama

Monday, 27 August 2012 14:35 Published in Media

The 3D reconstruction makes an appearance in the recent documentary where historian Simon Schama explores the life and times of William Shakespeare to shed a new and fascinating light on some of the greatest plays ever written.

Aired on BBC on Friday 22nd June In film one, Schama discovers how in his history plays Shakespeare created a rich vision of the nation which still influences and inspires today, presenting not only preening kings and queens for his audience's pleasure but country squires, cutpurses, common prostitutes and of course, his iconic and irreverent embodiment of England, Sir John Falstaff.

Film two explores Shakespeare’s attitude to kings, and how his great tragedies, Hamlet, Macbeth and King Lear, reveal not only what lies behind the mask of royalty, but truths about the rest of us too. Throughout, an extraordinary cast of actors including Judi Dench, Simon Russell Beale, Tobias Menzies, Roger Allam and Harriet Walter deliver some of Shakespeare's most moving and profound soliloquies.

  • «
  •  Start 
  •  Prev 
  •  1 
  •  2 
  •  Next 
  •  End 
  • »
Page 1 of 2

Further Details

The images, text and videos contained within this site have been produced as part of a joint collobaboration project between Museum of London Archeaology (MOLA) and Cloak and Dagger Studios.

Who's Online

We have 10 guests online