Born May 11, 1841, in Berlin; died there Apr. 8, 1921. German actor, stage director, and theatrical figure.
Possart took lessons from the famous German actor W. Kaiser. In 1861 he made his debut in the Breslau city theater, later acting in Bern and Hamburg. Beginning in 1864 he acted in the Munich Court Theater and was later a director in this theater and its artistic director. In 1883 he helped found the German Theater in Berlin and, in 1901, the Prince Regent Theater in Munich. Possart was one of the organizers of the Union of German Stage Workers, founded in 1871.
Possart combined a profound understanding of character portrayal with a faultless declamatory technique and meticulous attention to a role’s external elements. As a director, he devoted particular attention to mass scenes. His most important roles included the title role in Lessing’s Nathan the Wise, Mephistopheles and Carlos in Goethe’s Faust and Clavigo, Franz Moor in Schiller’s The Robbers, Shylock, Iago, and Richard III in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, Othello, and Richard III, and Consul Bernick in Ibsen’s The Pillars of Society.
Possart toured in Europe, Russia (1891–1900), and the United States. In 1905 he left the stage and embarked on a recital career, giving public readings of such works as Byron’s Manfred and Goethe’s Egmont.
WORKSErstrebtes und Erlebtes: Erinnerungen aus meiner Bühnentätigkeit, 3rd ed. Berlin, 1916.
REFERENCESVeselovskii, A. N. “Ernst Possart.” In Khrestomatiiapo istorii zapadnogo teatro na rubezhe XIX-XX vv. Edited by A. Gvozdev. Moscow-Leningrad, 1939.
I. A. NOVODVORSKAIA