"Garrick, whom I regard in tragedy to be the greatest genius "
David Garrick in 1745 as Richard III
Public DomainDavid Garrick in 1745 as Richard III - Credit: William Hogarth

David Garrick (1717-1779) was an English actor, playwright, theatre manager and producer who had a great influence over most aspects of theatrical practice during the 18th century.  His role as Richard III in Shakespeare’s play of that name was his first major breakthrough.  On the strength of his performance, he was engaged for a season at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.  He remained with the Drury Lane company for the next five years and purchased a share of the theatre.  He went on to manage Drury Lane for 29 years, raising it to prominence as one Europe’s leading theatres.

As an actor, he promoted realistic acting that departed the bombastic style common when he first made his name.  As theatre manager, he influenced audience behaviour, and production management.

While he was not a particularly good playwright, he brought Shakespeare to contemporary audiences, and also adapted many older plays, including many from the Restoration era.