Oysters and Crabs, The Popcorn of Shakespearean Theatergoers

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posted on Feb, 12 2010 @ 03:32 PM
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news.discovery.com


Tudor theatergoers snacked on seafood while enjoying plays by Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe, according to new evidence unearthed at two theaters in London.

The research, whose details are published by the Museum of London Archaeology in a book called "The Rose and the Globe: Playhouses of Shakespeare's Bankside, Southwark," began in 1988 and focused on two 16th-century famous playhouses: The Globe, home to many of Shakespeare's plays, and The Rose, where many of Christopher Marlowe's plays were first performed.

Julian Bowsher, the Museum of London archaeologist who excavated the sites, told Discovery News about his findings.

"For the first time in 400 years we know exactly what these playhouses looked like, how big they were, how they developed over the years, what the stages were like. Most importantly, we have found evidence for 'life' inside," Bowsher said.

Bowsher and colleague Pat Miller found that Tudor theaters had a lively atmosphere, with audiences moving around, indulging in pipe-smoking and snacking on an exotic array of food.

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Evidently, oysters were the favorite snack of the poor, as evidenced by the number of shells found under the groundlings' area. This suggests that they must have been less expensive than other seafood at the time.

The food remains under the more expensive seats, by contrast, suggest the wealthier feasted on crabs and sturgeon, as well as more exotic fruits like peaches and dried figs.

The archaeological finds of the recent past support the assumption that the English Renaissance was a more sophisticated period than had previously been imagined.






 
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