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Max Reinhardt (Goldmann)

(1873 – 1943)

Max Reinhardt (Goldmann) was a stage producer and director. Reinhardt, a leading force in the theater during the first part of the 20th century, was born in Baden, near Vienna. At 17, he became an actor and assistant director at the Salzburg State Theater. Otto *Brahm, director of the Deutsches Theater in Berlin, noted Reinhardt's work and brought him to the German capital in 1894. After succeeding Brahm as director of the theater in 1905, Reinhardt sought to integrate the two main theatrical traditions, the baroque, which he had learned in Vienna, and the literary and intellectual tradition then dominant in Berlin. "Our standard," he declared, "must not be to act a play as it was acted in the days of its author. How to make a play live in our time, that is decisive for us." Reinhardt offered the public a cosmopolitan repertory – revivals of the classics: Shakespeare, Goethe, Schiller, and Molière; and modern playwrights such as Wilde, Synge, Shaw, Ibsen, Gorki, and Strindberg.

Reinhardt's methods were experimental and spectacular. He used massive crowds and a projecting rostrum. For A Midsummer Night's Dream in 1905, he introduced a revolving stage; and for Hamlet, which he staged in 1909, he used modern dress. These technical innovations accompanied a revitalized concept of the theater that distinguished Reinhardt's productions and deeply influenced European stagecraft. Avoiding the star system, he was able to use leading performers in either major or minor roles, and he trained actors in his methods at a school that he established at the Deutsches Theater. Reinhardt created a furor in London with his productions of the wordless spectacle The Miracle at Olympia (1911) and of Oedipus Rex at Covent Garden (1912). In 1920, he produced Jedermann ("Everyman") at Salzburg, where until the 1930s, it became an annual event at the festival he founded there.

In 1924, Reinhardt returned briefly to Berlin to present Shaw's Saint Joan with Elisabeth Bergner and Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author. When the Nazis came to power in 1933, Reinhardt was deprived of all connections with the German state theater. He immigrated to the United States in the following year and staged A Midsummer Night's Dream in the Hollywood Bowl, playing to 12,000 people nightly. He made a film version of the play with the same type of massive settings that he used in his stage productions. During his last years, Reinhardt ran a school for actors on the West Coast.


G. Adler, Max Reinhardt, sein Leben (1964); H. Carter, The Theatre of Max Reinhardt (1964); O.M. Sayler (ed.), Max Reinhardt and His Theatre (1924); H. Braulich, Max Reinhardt, Theater zwischen Traum und Wirklichkeit (1966), W. Haas, Die literarische Welt (1958), index.

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.