Max Reinhardt  

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Max Reinhardt (September 9, 1873 - October 30, 1943) was an influential Austrian-American theatre director and actor noted for his film version of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

He was born as Maximilian Goldmann, of Jewish ancestry, in Baden bei Wien, Austria-Hungary. From 1902 until the beginning of Nazi rule in 1933, he worked as a director at various theaters in Berlin. From 1905 to 1930 he managed the Deutsches Theater ("German Theatre") in Berlin and, in addition, the Theater in der Josefstadt in Vienna from 1924 to 1933. By employing powerful staging techniques, and harmonising stage design, language, music and choreography, Reinhardt introduced new dimensions into German theater.

Kurt Tucholsky, a poet of the Weimar era, described Reinhardt's spectacular production of Danton's Death, a Georg Büchner play that Reinhardt restaged in Berlin in 1921, in the following terms:


Bei Reinhardt wogte der dritte Akt.
Es rasten sechshundert Statisten.
Sieh an - wie das die Berliner packt!
Es jubeln die Journalisten.
Mir aber erschien das Ganze wie
eine kleine Allegorie.
Es tost ein Volk: "Die Revolution!
Wir wollen die Freiheit gewinnen!
Wir wollten es seit Jahrhunderten schon -
laßt Herzblut strömen und rinnen!"
Es dröhnt die Szene. Es dröhnt das Haus.
Um Neune ist alles aus.
Und ernüchtert seh ich den grauen Tag.
Wo ist der November geblieben?
Wo ist das Volk, das einst unten lag,
von Sehnsucht nach oben getrieben?
Stille. Vorbei. Es war nicht viel.
Ein Spiel. Ein Spiel.


Act Three was great in Reinhardt's play —
Six hundred extras milling.
Listen to what the critics say!
All Berlin finds it thrilling.
But in the whole affair I see
A parable, if you ask me.
"Revolution!' the People howls and cries
'Freedom, that's what we're needing!
We've needed it for centuries —
Our arteries are bleeding.'
The stage is shaking. The audience rock.
The whole thing is over by nine o'clock.
The day looks grey as I come to.
Where are the People — remember? —
That stormed the peaks from down below?
What happened to November?
Silence. All gone. Just that, in fact.
An act. An act.

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