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The Virtual Shakespeare Consortium

As announced, the Blackfriars Museum (a.k.a. the Blackfriars Theatre Museum) grand opens TODAY on the Bard's Birthday 2009! The museum is a humble shack adjacent to the north end of the Blackfriars Theatre, as such it's more of a mini-exhibit, but should give you a good overview of the historic elements behind the construction of the world's only complete replica of Shakespeare's indoor playhouse, the Blackfriars Theatre in Shakespeare, Second Life.

While creating this exhibit (the sketches are modified from Irwin Smith and the Public Domain; the text is mine), I couldn't help but notice the similarities between a cathedral floorplan and that of a theatre, and so here's my sort of "pet paradigm":


Blackfriars Theatre Museum - Of Theatres and Cathedrals copy

The above, in context, is displayed on a wall in the Blackfriars Museum, unedited SL photos as shown below. (Clicking on the "Cathedral in a Theatre" panel inworld also gives you a free inworld info HUD so that you can take these three panels home--or anywhere on SL--with you!)

The Museum illuminates the historical basis for the construction of the Blackfriars Theatre, which was actually built within a building inside a lavishly *rich* Dominican Monastery (hence the name Black Friars -- the Dominicans wore a black cloak over their habits). Conjectural diagrams of the monastery are shown, although only the building segment housing the Blackfriars is built (due to funding shortages -- I can't afford to buy another sim for my pet projects anymore :-( but, if you're crazy enough to fund a sim dedicated to a build of the *complete* Dominican priory that the Blackfriars Theatre was set in, give me a poke!). In addition to... yet more diagrams... the museum also shows a scaled-down version of the roof structure, explaining for its historical basis. Faux-original documents, such as Piers Plowman and diagrams/photos from archaeological digs are also displayed in context (emphasis on faux-original -- admittedly, they're made to look da-Vinci-Code-esque, i.e., Hollywood style imitations of ori doc's).

Theatre-Cathedral Analogue Wall Blackfriars Museum Main Wall Blackfriars Museum Roof Explanation

blackfriars museum original docs - parchment book piers plowman panel 1 blackfriars museum original docs - parchment book piers plowman panel 2
blackfriars digs


For the detail-pious, just a note of excitement to look forward to in the next few months: The Blackfriars Theatre will have both rushes and candlelight installed for our summer staged reading series in preparation for our 2010 production of Henry VIII (and stage stools!). We'll also make use of the rear-stage, and trap-doors as well even though it's a staged reading series! Last year, we tried a costumed staged reading series, but this year, we'll try a staged reading series with (perhaps?) some basic blocking. For sure, we will be going for an Tudor-accurate production of Henry VIII, when we start showing the full ensemble performances in 2010!

As future Challenge Productions, we also hope to try out a couple (at least?) of the many historic play manuscripts with explicit blocking for the Blackfriars!

But, for now, I bid thee check out the Blackfriars Museum! And, happy birthday Shakespeare!

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