One of the most joyous parts of preparing for this production has been having the perfect excuse to go back to source material and gorge myself on the original folios. Although the folios were created after Shakespeare’s death, they were compiled relatively quickly, almost provoked by the grief of his loss, by contemporaries who knew and loved the man as well as loving his work. The introductions, where space is given over for other contemporaries to pay homage to Shakespeare are a feast in themselves, giving a genuine feeling of affection for the real man as well as his work. (You can find editions at http://internetshakespeare.uvic.ca)
The reason there are discrepancies in different modern publications of Shakespeare’s work is that there isn’t one original definitive copy of each play. The history of the original surviving scripts (or more often bits of scripts) is a fascinating study in itself. Just as interesting is observing the different choices that modern editors make when deciding which word or part they choose to opt for in their modern edits. As for the choice (and creation) of punctuation – another wonderful study in itself!
I’ve enjoyed making my own choices, which forced me to think in just that little more detail about what Shakespeare was saying. Between the different edits, there is never that much difference but the pleasure of exploring the subtly of those differences has been wonderful.