In 1882, a critic of the journal Theatre noted that ‘the theatrical life of the present day might be described as a round of glorified strolling. The ‘circuits’ of Bristol, Norwich, and York of the last century are now replaced by those of the United States, South Africa, India, and Australia, and a modern actor thinks as little of a season in Melbourne or New York as his grandfather did of a week’s ‘starring’ in Edinburgh.’ Yet the story of how these Western theatre companies reached audiences in the faraway lands of the British Empire and Asia is still relatively untold. In this article Kaori Kobayashi explores in detail some itineraries around the turn of the twentieth century of these travelling companies, many of them relatively obscure, showing that the companies had a particular and significant impact on the development of Shakespearean performance and interpretation in the East. In essence, it is impossible to understand the rise of ‘Asian Shakespeare’ without also grasping how Western touring companies helped shape the East’s engagement with the West’s most canonical dramatist. Kaori Kobayashi is Professor of English at Nagoya City University, author of The Cultural History of The Taming of The Shrew (in Japanese, 2007), and editor of Shakespeare Performance Studies in Japan (in Japanese, 2010).