From the very beginning the First Folio has had connections with theatre. Early annotations attentive to stage directions and to appropriate speakers show readers thinking theatrically. Later ownership, by theatre managers and actors from the Restoration, shows how the book was important in the restoration and adaptation of Shakespeare to the stage. David Garrick and other actors in England and America were Folio owners: their copies coincide with their theatre practice in interesting and revealing ways. Later, the enhanced appreciation of Shakespeare’s fellow actors in putting the First Folio together developed a new sense of how the theatre might have influenced the form of the texts. The contested role of the Folio in contemporary ‘original practices’ and in the marketing and reception of theatre in the modern period is discussed.
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