Attention is often given to the performance of a text, but not to the shaping process behind that performance. The question of rehearsal is seldom confronted directly, though important textual moments - like revision - are often attributed to it. Furthermore, up until now, facts about theatrical rehearsal have been considered irrecoverable. In this groundbreaking new study, Tiffany Stern gathers together two centuries' worth of historical material which shows how actors received and responded to their parts, and how rehearsal affected the creation and revision of plays. This is the first history of the subject, from the sixteenth century to the eighteenth. It examines the nature and changing content of rehearsal, drawing on a mass of autobiographical, textual, and journalistic sources, and in so doing throws new light on textual revision and transforms accepted notions of Renaissance, Restoration, and eighteenth-century theatrical practice. Plotting theatrical change over time, this book will revolutionize the fields of textual and theatre history alike.