This paper examines what the emerging field of rehearsal studies can offer scholars of Shakespeare in performance. It draws on research undertaken alongside the staging of Davenant’s Macbeth at the Folger Theatre in Washington DC in August 2018—part of the AHRC-funded project ‘Performing Restoration Shakespeare’—to examine how rehearsal studies might be brought into useful dialogue with Shakespeare performance historiography. In this article we use our experience of the project to outline a methodology for examining early modern plays through contemporary performance practice. As such, it represents a new application of the methodology of rehearsal studies, which until now has primarily been used to examine the processes and politics of contemporary theatre practice. It will contribute to the growing body of literature exploring practice-as-research in the field of Shakespeare performance studies, arguing for the value of observation and critical analysis of twenty-first century staging methods of early modern drama by theatre historians. It outlines a model for collaboration between theatre scholars and professional practitioners and is a way of engaging with and learning from the knowledge generated through the embodied process of rehearsal.
- theatre history
- practice as research