I was delighted to read a cheery Shakespeare story emerge from Poland this week. 10,000 people crowded into Gdansk's old market square on Monday to hear recitals of Shakespearean verse to mark the construction of a new Shakespeare theater, due to complete in 2013 at the cost of $28 million.
The thing I found remarkable about this story is the fact that the cornerstone was laid on the site of a lost Elizabethan theater constructed in 17th-century Gdansk. Records show that the building was based upon the Fortune Elizabethan Playhouse which opened in London during Shakespeare’s lifetime.
The new theater building will play host to Gdansk’s long-established annual Shakespeare festival.
Although I knew Britain was exporting Shakespeare around the world during this period, I was surprised to learn that theater design was also being exported! It was reported that the theater was originally built for British actors to entertain Gdansk’s wealthy merchants with Shakespeare’s plays.
In many ways, this development in Gdansk mirrors the discovery of Shakespeare’s first theater in London late last year.