The theory of memorial reconstruction refers to the hypotheses concerning the transcription of 17th century plays from memory by actors who had played parts in them, and the subsequent publication of those transcripts. Examples of possible memorial reconstructions are early editions of William Shakespeare, including the second quarto (1598) of Richard III and the first quarto (1603) of Hamlet. It has been theorized that the only version to survive of Christopher Marlowe's The Massacre at Paris is a text obtained in this way, although there is no concrete evidence to support this assertion.
In Shakespeare: An Anthology of Criticism and Theory, 1945-2000, Paul Werstine asserts that the theory has "yet to be empirically validated with reference to any extant Shakespeare quarto" and "there is no documentary evidence that any actor ever memorially reconstructed a play."
Alberty Freillerat, in The Composition of Shakespeare’s Plays, suggests that "it is odd that all actor-reporters should make similar mistakes and report inconsistently" and he concludes that the theory of memorial reconstruction is "as disappointing as that of stenographic reconstruction.