Max Reinhardt

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Max Reinhardt
Maximilian Goldmann
BirthplaceBaden bei Wien, Austria-Hungary
Theatre director, Actor

Reinhardt, Max,

1873–1943, Austrian theatrical producer and director, originally named Max Goldmann. After acting under Otto Brahm at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin, he managed (1902–5) his own theater, where he produced more than 50 plays. He was director of the Deutsches Theater after 1905 and of the smaller Kammerspiele, which he built in 1906. Reinhardt often used the entire auditorium for a production, seeking to bridge the gap between actor and audience by placing the spectator within the action. He staged gigantic productions, full of pageantry and color, and was especially noted for his direction of mob scenes. His settings, which incorporated the ideas of Appia and Craig, were masterfully executed. Among his world-famous productions were The Lower Depths, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Faust, Oedipus Rex, and The Miracle. He was also one of the first to stage the plays of the expressionists after World War I. In 1919 he opened an enormous arena theater, the Grosses Schauspielhaus ("Theatre of the Five Thousand"), and in 1920 he was among the founders of the Salzburg FestivalSalzburg Festival,
annual festival of music and drama held in Salzburg, Austria, for five weeks starting in late July. The festival may be considered a descendant of the Salzburg Music Festival Weeks that the Vienna Philharmonic gave irregularly between 1877 and 1910.
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, where he annually staged Everyman with the Austrian Alps as his backdrop. In 1933 he was forced by the Nazis to flee Germany. In the United States he directed a movie version of A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935) and a stage pageant with music by Kurt WeillWeill, Kurt
, 1900–1950, German-American composer, b. Dessau, studied with Humperdinck and Busoni in Berlin. He first became known with the production of two short satirical surrealist operas, Der Protagonist (1926) and Der Zar lässt sich photographieren
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, The Eternal Road (1934, produced 1937). He became a U.S. citizen in 1940.


See H. Carter, The Theatre of Max Reinhardt (1914, repr. 1964); J. L. Styan, Max Reinhardt (1982).

Reinhardt, Max


Born Sept. 9, 1873, in Baden, Austria; died Oct. 30, 1943, in New York, USA. German director, actor, and theatrical figure.

In 1894, Reinhardt graduated from the Theater School of the Vienna Conservatory and subsequently acted in the theaters of Bratislava and Salzburg. From 1894 to 1904 he acted at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin, where he performed primarily the roles of old men, including Engstrand in Ibsen’s Ghosts and Akim in L. N. Tolstoy’s The Power of Darkness.

Reinhardt started directing at the artists’ cabaret Schall und Rauch, which he had established in Berlin in 1901 and which later became the Kleines Theater. He also managed the Neues Theater from 1903 to 1906, the Kammerspiele Theater in 1906, the Komoedie Theater in 1924, the Volksbühne Theater from 1915 to 1919, and the Theater in Josephsstadt of Vienna intermittently between 1923 and 1937. His major work as a director was done with the Deutsches Theater, which he managed intermittently from 1905 to 1933.

Reinhardt opposed theatrical conventions and naturalism, which provided a superficial likeness of everyday life. His productions were characterized by inventiveness and fantasy and a virtuoso use of the stage, light and sound effects, and music. He devoted his attention to psychological character development and to the cultivation of the stage voice and a plasticity of expression in acting. Reinhardt also used pantomime, dance, and acrobatics in his productions. He even staged plays in circus arenas and music halls, including Oedipus Rex in the Sopho-cles-Hofmannsthal version, produced in 1910, The New Munich Music Hall, produced by the Cinizelli Circus in 1910, and The Miracle, based on Maeterlinck’s Sister Beatrice, produced by the Olympia in London in 1911. He also staged plays on city squares, including the medieval mystery play Everyman, adapted by Hofmannsthal and produced in Salzburg in 1920.

Reinhardt staged German classical plays, including such rarely produced works as Goethe’s Faust, The Accomplices, and The Festival at Pluzersveilen, Lenz’ Soldiers, and Büchner’s Danton’s Death. Of the contemporary German playwrights he staged R. Sorge and F. Unruh. Reinhardt staged Molière, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes. Gorky’s The Lower Depths was produced under the title The Flophouse in the Kleines Theater in 1903; Reinhardt played the role of Luka. L. N. Tolstoy’s The Fruits of Enlightenment was produced in 1903 by the Neues Theater and The Living Corpse was produced in 1913 by the Deutsches Theater. Plays by G. B. Shaw and R. Rolland were also produced.

Reinhardt created very artistic productions, although he avoided contemporary problems because of the crisis of bourgeois culture. Pessimistic and even mystical motifs were characteristic of several of his productions. During the 1920’s and 1930’s he worked with young and progressive directors, such as E. Engel and K. Martin, and playwrights, such as B. Brecht. Reinhardt’s staging of G. Hauptmann’s play Before Sunset in 1932 was very successful. In Vienna in 1928, Reinhardt organized a seminar for actors and directors, which was the first school for directors in Western Europe. He founded the Salzburg Festival in 1920. He trained many famous actors, including A. Moissi, G. Eysoldt, P. Wegener, and E. Jannings.

Reinhardt was forced to leave Germany in 1933. He worked in Austria until 1938 and later worked in France and the USA. In Hollywood he founded a theater school and made motion pictures. Reinhardt’s creative work greatly influenced acting and directing in many European countries and in the USA.


Gvozdev, A. Zapadno-evropeiskii teatr na rubezhe XIX i XX stoletii. Moscow-Leningrad, 1939.
Ihering. H. Von Reinhardt bis Brecht, vols. 1–3. Berlin, 1958–61.
Jacobsohn, S. Jahre der Bühne. Reinbek, 1965.


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