Meiningen Theater

Meiningen Theater


a German theater founded in the late 18th century in Meiningen, the capital of the duchy of Saxe-Meiningen.

The Meiningen Theater gained world renown in the latter half of the 19th century. Its greatest period is associated with Duke George II and the director L. Kronek, and it is mainly to the latter that the theater owes its reputation. From 1874 to 1890, the Meiningen Theater company toured in Great Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria-Hungary, Poland, Scandinavia, Egypt, and Russia (1885, 1890). Its standard repertoire consisted primarily of classical dramas, including Schiller’s The Maid of Orleans, Mary Stuart, and Wallenstein and Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Macbeth, and The Merchant of Venice. Plays by Kleist, Lessing, Grillparzer, Moliere, Byron, and Ibsen were also produced.

The Meiningen Theater continued F. Dingelstedt and E. Devrient’s tradition of picturesque staging. Its directors attached paramount importance to the visual aspect of their productions and strove for historical and ethnographic detail and authenticity in the depiction of everyday life. The theater is to be credited with upholding the principle of ensemble playing, the subordination of all components to a single design, and the expressiveness of its mass scenes. K. S. Stanislavsky spoke of the great significance of the Meiningen Theater and highly praised its “directorial methods of bringing out the spiritual essence of a work” (Sobr. soch., vol. 1, 1954, p. 132), but he pointed out that the managers of the theater “failed to renew the old, purely histrionic methods of acting” (ibid., p. 130), although talented actors (L. Barnay, L. Teller, O. Lorenz) did take part in the theater’s productions.


Stanislavsky, K. S. Sobr. soch., vol. 1. Moscow, 1954. Pages 129–32.
Rostotskii, B. I. “Meiningentsy.” In Istoriia zapadnoevropeiskogo teatra, vol. 5. Moscow, 1970.
Winds, A. Geschichte der Regie. Berlin-Leipzig, 1925.
Grube, M. Geschichte der Meininger. Stuttgart-Berlin, 1926.