The closing of the theaters between 1640 and 1660 not only created a gap in the production of English drama; it changed the course of its development as well. Restoration playwrights felt obliged to re-write earlier work, including Shakespeare’s, to appeal to the literary tastes of more civilized audiences. William Davenant (1606–1668), John Dryden (1631–1700), and Nahum Tate (1652–1715) were among those who thought they were improving Shakespeare by sanitizing the language, cutting scenes and re-writing endings. For over 100 years no text was sacred on the English stage. Garrick’s adaptations followed an accepted, even expected, practice and it saved him valuable time. Altering previously published work for conditions at Drury Lane meant he could introduce a succession of new plays in any given season without having to create them from scratch.
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