Iffland, August Wilhelm

   Actor, manager, playwright. Iffland became for many observers by the time of his death the signal personality of German acting—the figure against whom were measured all subsequent actors. As a boy he showed promise as an actor, and at age 17 Konrad Ekhof engaged him at the Gotha Court Theater. There Ekhof trained him rigorously, impressing on Iffland the importance of concentration, mnemonic skills, and intelligent line readings. When the Gotha company disbanded in 1779 after Ekhof's death, Iffland began a lengthy and fortuitous engagement at the Mannheim Court and National Theater, where he came under the prodigious influence of Wolfgang Heribert von Dalberg, who reinforced the teachings of Ekhof while assigning Iffland a wide variety of leading roles in demanding plays. Among his most significant roles was Franz von Moor in the 1782 premiere of Friedrich Schiller's Die Räuber (The Robbers); the nationwide success this play enjoyed, along with his portrayal of characters from William Shakespeare and Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, earned Iffland a national reputation. He took guest engagements at several major theaters through the 1780s and 1790s, and by the time he departed Mannheim for Berlin in 1796, he enjoyed the status of Germany's best-known actor.
   Unlike most actors of his day, Iffland was highly literate and well read. He wrote extensively on the craft of acting, insisting that an actor was to assure audiences of the "wholeness" of any performance they witnessed. He said he always strived for consistency, completeness, and beauty "in the perception of the whole." Iffland also developed play-writing skills to parallel those of his performances, and he became one of the German theater's most popular playwrights. His The Hunters and The Bachelors were highly praised and often imitated Rührstücke ("plays that move an audience"). They remained wildly popular with German middle-class audiences long after Iffland's death. Audiences saw themselves flatteringly portrayed in such plays, confronting and overcoming challenges with surprising courage and fortitude; the plays fulfilled theater's "moral imperative," upon which both Johann Christoph Gottsched and Lessing had earlier insisted. Iffland additionally assigned a kind of nationalistic mission to the actor's work, stating that the "inner nobility" of a character was essentially a German trait, one totally missing among the French. The theater also had an obligation, Iffland said, to teach audiences the moral validity of "noble" comportment in daily life. Johann Wolfgang Goethe found Iffland's acting altogether "astonishing," praising the actor's ability to concentrate on "human peculiarities" and to gather them all together so that they "constitute a whole character." Schiller, however, found Iffland too "conversational" in verse dramas, yet audiences thronged to see If-fland's productions of Schiller's verse plays at the Berlin Royal Theater.
   When Iffland premiered the new August Wilhelm Schlegel translations of Shakespeare in Berlin, audiences held Iffland in reverential awe. Iffland thereafter became the first German actor to enjoy substantial wealth and to gain standing among the Prussian nobility. He moved easily within aristocratic circles, enjoying a nationwide influence no other actor before him had attained.

Historical dictionary of German Theatre. . 2006.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Iffland, August Wilhelm — Iffland, August Wilhelm, geboren zu Hannover 1759, einer der größten deutschen Dramaturgen, zeigte schon als Knabe für die Bühne Talent und unüberwindliche Neigung. In seiner Vaterstadt von Schlegel s Kanzelberedtsamkeit angezogen, wollte er… …   Damen Conversations Lexikon

  • Iffland, August Wilhelm — ▪ German theatrical manager born April 19, 1759, Hannover, Hanover [Germany] died Sept. 22, 1814, Berlin, Prussia  German actor, dramatist, and manager, a major influence on German theatre.       Destined for the church, Iffland, at the age of 18 …   Universalium

  • August Wilhelm Iffland — August Wilhelm Iffland. August Wilhelm Iffland y Franz La …   Wikipedia Español

  • August Wilhelm Iffland — et Franz La …   Wikipédia en Français

  • August Wilhelm Iffland — August Wilhelm Iffland, Lithographie von Johann Stephan Decker, um 1820 August Wilhelm Iffland (* 19. April 1759 in Hannover; † 22. September 1814 in Berlin) war ein deutscher Schauspieler, Intendant und Dramati …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • August Wilhelm Iffland — (April 19, 1759 ndash;September 22, 1814) was a German actor and dramatic author. His father intended him to be a clergyman, but Iffland preferred the stage, and at eighteen ran away to Gotha in order to prepare himself for a theatrical career.He …   Wikipedia

  • August Iffland — August Wilhelm Iffland August Wilhelm Iffland (* 19. April 1759 in Hannover; † 22. September 1814 in Berlin) war ein deutscher Schauspieler, Intendant und Dramatiker. Inhaltsverzeichnis …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Iffland — Iffland, August Wilhelm, Schauspieler, Theaterdirektor und Dramatiker, geb. 19. April 1759 in Hannover, gest. 22. Sept. 1814 in Berlin, wurde von seinen Eltern für das Studium der Theologie bestimmt, entwich aber 1777 heimlich nach Gotha, wo er… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Iffland — ist der Name folgender Personen: August Wilhelm Iffland (1759–1814), deutscher Schauspieler, Theaterdirektor und Dramatiker nach ihm benannt der Iffland Ring Christian Philipp Iffland (1750–1835), Bürgermeister von Hannover Ernst Iffland… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • August (Name) — August ist ein männlicher Vorname und Familienname. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Herkunft und Bedeutung 2 Namenstag 3 Varianten 3.1 Männlich …   Deutsch Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.