When the lease on the land on which Burbage’s Theatre stood ran out in 1597 The Lord Chamberlain’s Men acting troupe were forced to find alternative premises. They moved to another public playing house – the nearby Curtain Theatre in Curtain Close, Shoreditch – for two years until the building of the Globe had been completed. They continued performing at The Curtain until the Globe opened in 1599.
During the Lord Chamberlain’s Men’s time at The Curtain a number of Shakespeare’s plays were performed, including Henry V and Romeo & Juliet. In fact it was in Henry V that Shakespeare immortalised The Curtain with a line in the prologue: “may we cram within this wooden O the very casques that did affright the air at Agincourt?” The Curtain gained further exposure more recently when it featured in the 1998 film Shakespeare in Love.
The Curtain was owned by shareholders, including some from the acting troupe themselves. Both Thomas Pope and John Underwood of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men left shares in the Curtain to their heirs in their last will and testaments.
The ultimate fate of the Curtain is obscure, with no record of it after 1627. However in 2012 a team from the Museum of London Archaeology department announced that they had excavated and uncovered the remains of the Curtain theatre.