(Illustration of The Rose, Phase I by William Dudley | © William Dudley / The Rose Theatre Trust)

The Virtual Rose

While The Rose is in pandemic-imposed quarantine, you can visit it in cyberspace using the following links to virtual reconstructions, lectures, filmed performances of Rose repertory plays and online research platforms.

The ShaLT Project

 The ShaLT Project website was built for the project team by Rock Kitchen Harris under the aegis of  De Montfort University and the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A). It contains a wealth of material that will inspire you. Here are some of its wonderful learning resources:

  • A 10-minute video introduction to The Rose.
  • Prof Grace Ioppolo’s research interview video, which sets out the basics of what we know about Philip Henslowe, Edward Alleyn and The Rose Playhouse.
  • A performance of Act 2, scene 4 of Thomas Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy, filmed at The Rose. This play established the revenge tragedy genre from the late 1580s onward and strongly influenced Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It was an enduringly popular play with citizen theatre audiences across the Elizabethan, Jacobean and Caroline periods. The popular audience seemed to relish following a play plot in which revenge is taken on royalty. 
  • A talk by Prof Peter Womack on The Spanish Tragedy, entitled “The People’s Tragic Hero”, given at the V&A on 28 April 2013.


Computerised Reconstructions

The Ortelia Model

Using the archaeological remains, Ortelia produced a working 3D model of The Rose with the help of theatre architects and historians. It shows The Rose in 1587 with different lighting conditions on a summer’s day. They have created virtual actors and stage props to experiment with the theatre’s performance possibilities, using the final monologue in Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, a fiery death scene in Robert Greene and Thomas Lodge’s A Looking Glass for London and England and a flying dragon in Robert Greene’s Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay as case studies.

Prof Joanne Tompkins is one of the principal creators of this virtual Rose. She gave a lecture/demonstration entitled “Virtual Reality and London’s Early Stages” about the project for ShaLT at the V&A on 2 June 2013. You can listen to the talk here.


The De Montfort Model

Drs Roger Clegg and Eric Tatham have published a free e-book about their computer model of The Rose. Reconstructing the Rose: 3D Computer Modelling Philip Henslowe’s Playhouse (2019) contains many images of the theatre and its surrounding streets as they may have looked in the late 16thcentury, as well as detailed descriptions of how the model was constructed. Clegg notes in his introduction:

“What this reconstruction of Henslowe’s playhouse does, which others do not, is make transparent to the viewer the choices made in designing each part through a methodical discussion, analysis, and evaluation of the available evidence, and to make clear where what is being witnessed is conjecture, invention, inspiration, or guesswork.”

There are videos and zoomable images of The Rose throughout the book.


Rose Playhouse Prototype and Timeline Demo

The international collaboration that is the Records of Early English Drama (REED) project, based at the University of Toronto, has created an online database of Rose records correlated with map locations, placing these primary resources into historical contexts of time and space.

The database, called the Rose Playhouse Prototype, contains a history of the playhouse, a biography of Philip Henslowe and annotated transcriptions of primary sources of Rose-related (as opposed to Rose) manuscript records from collections such as Dulwich College, The National Archives, the British Library and the London Metropolitan Archives. The 60-odd documents date from the 1580s until 1606, and include the original leases for The Rose, the important Petition to the Privy Council by the Watermen and censorship documents that sometimes prevented The Rose from putting on plays.

Its companion is the Rose Playhouse Timeline Demo, a web page containing an interactive map of London that links to the Prototype’s documents and others from the 1550s until 1605.

The database is edited by Dr Sally-Beth MacLean, currently Director of Research & General Editor of REED and Professor Emerita at the University of Toronto. The cartographer is Byron Moldofsky.