Max Reinhardt

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 Festival, 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 Weill, 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).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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