The celebrated theater director Max Reinhardt, recognized in America primarily for his elaborate productions of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Franz Werfel’s The Eternal Road, and Karl Vollmoeller’s The Miracle, was born in 1873 at Baden near Vienna, Austria and died in New York City in 1943. Reinhardt’s illustrious career takes on added significance because it coincides with a major shift in the evolution of the modern theater: the ascendancy of the director as the key figure in theatrical production. Reinhardt’s reputation in international theater history is secured by the leading role he played in this transformation, as well as by his innovative use of new theater technology and endless experimentation with theater spaces and locales, which together redefined traditional relationships between actor and audience toward a new participatory theater.
Scope of Collection
The Max Reinhardt Library and Archives at Binghamton University is one of several notable collections worldwide of books and manuscripts dealing with the work of the Austro-German theatre director Max Reinhardt (1873-1943) and the largest such collection in North and South America. It contains approximately 15,000 books from Reinhardt’s personal library and over 10,000 manuscripts, items of correspondence, photographs, programs, critical reviews, directorial promptbooks, writings, and related supporting materials totaling approximately 100 cubic feet. This collection, which covers major but not all aspects of Reinhardt’s life and theater work, may be termed selective rather than comprehensive in nature, with particular strengths at three discrete stages in Reinhardt’s career: Imperial Berlin (1900-18), Salzburg Festival (1920s-30s), and work undertaken in the United States both before and after Reinhardt’s emigration there in 1937. The bulk of the Collection was acquired in the 1960s from son Gottfried Reinhardt, with a major later addition by widow Helene Thimig-Reinhardt, as well as subsequent incremental donations from family members and former theatre associates.