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Bard's Old Theater Big on Atmosphere

May 16, 1999|ASSOCIATED PRESS

LONDON — The site of the Rose Theater, where William Shakespeare honed his dramatic art, has opened to paying visitors. But it looks nothing like the replica created for the Academy Award-winning film "Shakespeare in Love."

For now, it's just a dark, damp basement under an 11-story office building on the South Bank of the river Thames. But it's the atmosphere that counts. "This is the holy of holies of English theater," lawmaker Simon Hughes said.

The site was found a decade ago during construction of the office building. A public uproar forced the builders to suspend the structure on girders, but full excavation will not be allowed until the building ends its commercial life in about 10 years.

Meanwhile, visitors are being charged about $4.80 to stand on a viewing platform and gaze into a 2-foot-deep pond that covers the theater foundations. They also see a video of the site's history, with scenes from "Shakespeare in Love" projected onto glass screens suspended over the water.

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