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A National Repertoire

Schiller, Iffland and the German Stage

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Lesley Sharpe

Friedrich Schiller had a difficult relationship with the theatre world and wrote plays that, though successful on stage, ran counter to contemporary trends. This study sets Schiller in the context of the theatre history of his period by examining the impact on his dramatic production of the circumstances of the two theatres with which he was closely involved, the Mannheim National Theatre and the Weimar Court Theatre, where Goethe was Director. Born in the same year as Schiller, August Wilhelm Iffland was the most prominent actor of his generation and a prolific playwright, whose early career at the Mannheim theatre made him Schiller’s rival. Yet later, as Director of the Berlin National Theatre, Iffland helped create a national repertoire with Schiller’s dramas as its cornerstone. By analysing the theatrical careers of Schiller and Iffland in parallel, this study explores the developing belief in theatre as a cultural institution. It also illuminates the relationship between Schiller and Goethe as theatre practitioners.
Contents: German theatre in the later eighteenth century – Iffland and the Gotha Court Theatre – Creation of the Mannheim National Theatre – Theatre and opera in Schiller’s Württemberg – Schiller’s early dramas on stage in Mannheim – Shakespeare on stage in Germany in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries – Iffland’s plays and the development of sentimental family drama – Iffland the actor – Goethe and amateur theatre in Weimar – The Weimar Court Theatre – Schiller’s Wallenstein on stage – Goethe’s and Schiller’s concept of aesthetic education through theatre – The Berlin National Theatre – The staging of Schiller’s later plays – Iffland’s later career.