The theatre in which Romeo and Juliet and Henry V were first performed is to be unearthed, preserved and displayed in Shoreditch.
The Curtain Theatre, built in 1577, was home to William Shakespeare's company the Lord Chamberlain's Men, before they moved to the Globe.
Archaeologists undertook exploratory digs at the site in 2011 and found preserved remains of the 14-sided theatre three metres below ground level, including the original stage floor and brick walls that supported the "Wooden O" mentioned in Henry V.
The development has now been approved, and excavations can get underway. The Curtain Theatre will become a scheduled ancient monument and will form the centrepiece of a 13,000 ft exhibition space.
Curtain Theatre factfile
- The Curtain Theatre is London's second oldest Shakespearean playhouse
- It was home to Shakespeare's company, the Lord Chamberlain's Men
- It was built in 1577 on the site of 'The Stage' in Shoreditch
- It was the main venue for Shakespeare's plays between 1597 and 1599
- It showed the first performances of Romeo and Juliet and Henry V
- It was later operated by James Burbage
- It was named after nearby Curtain Close
- It disappears from the historic record in 1622
The theatre will form the centre of a 13,000 foot exhibition space, with a 164-seat indoor auditorium and 200-seat outdoor space for theatrical performances.
385 homes, offices, shops, cafes and restaurants will also be built at the site.
When completed, 30,000 visitors and students are expected to visit each year.