London Archaeology Class Visits The Rose Theatre, Bankside

Author: Emily Grassby


Fay Stevens, Adjunct Professor of Archaeology and Ethics and London Archaeology writes:


Our London Archaeology field trips continue with an informative and entertaining visit to the extraordinary remains of the Rose Playhouse, Bankside’s first theatre dating to 1587.  Here, we were fortunate to have the expertise of Suzanne Marie (Honorary Artistic Associate) and Marica Gambina (Actress).  Through the experienced eye of Suzanne, we learnt about the history and significance of the theatre, its archaeological finds and the exciting plans for future development.  Our trip also included four short performances from Suzanne and Marica, which included impromptu participation from Notre Dame student Sean Hipskind.  The visit provided an exciting opportunity for us to build upon the work we have covered so far in the course, as well as consider archaeology in action in the form of conservation, accessibility and the site as an active and dynamic performance space.


Suzanne writes:



‘It was a pleasure to show the students of Notre Dame University the site of The Rose Playhouse, the first Elizabethan Playhouse on Bankside. It is an incredibly important archaeological site. The Rose is not only a treasure to this nation but indeed to the wider world. Through archaeology and through surviving documentation about The Rose, including Philip Henslowe’s Diary, we know more about Elizabethan play-going from The Rose than from any other source. In 2012, The Rose was given a First Phase Development Grant from Heritage Lottery, which we need to match fund. Our plans are to finish the archaeological dig of The Rose, preserve and conserve the remains and put them on permanent public display. We would like The Rose to be an Exhibition and Education Centre as well as a playhouse for the enjoyment of all.


I would like to express my sincerest thanks to our very dedicated and joyful team of volunteers, who work so hard and devotedly to help save The Rose and help us with ‘The Rose Revealed Project’.


My sincerest thanks also to the staff and students of Notre Dame University in England for your wonderful enthusiasm about The Rose, and a very special thank you to Sean Hipskind for his bravery in heroically volunteering to be my Orlando and participating with me in a scene from As You Like It. Sean’s fantastic performance as Orlando was greatly enjoyed by the students and by the visitors to The Rose open day. Shakespeare, Henslowe and Alleyn would be so proud!’


Images: Suzanne Marie and Marica Gambina with the London Archaeology Class outside the entrance to the Rose Playhouse on Bankside and Notre Dame student and Suzanne Marie perform an extract from Shakespeare’s  ‘As You Like It’ © Fay Stevens

Originally published by Emily Grassby at on April 02, 2014.