Engel, Erich

(1891-1966)
   director; an associate of Bertolt Brecht* and a key figure in post-Expressionist theater.* Born in Hamburg, he studied acting under Leopold Jessner* and in 1918 began directing Hamburg's new Chamber Players. Named director of Munich's Prinzregententheater in February 1922, he won acclaim for his productions of Hamlet and Christian Dietrich Grabbe's Scherz, Satire, Ironie und tiefere Bedeutung (Jokes, satire, irony, and deeper meaning). He was invited to Berlin* in 1923 by an assistant of Max Reinhardt* and established his reputation with his 1924 productions of Buchner's Danton's Death and Brecht's In the Jungle.
   Engel was determined to stage new playwrights and to rethink the classics in light of Germany's prevailing social and political atmosphere. In February 1925 he presented an antiheroic interpretation of Coriolanus for the Deutsches The-ater. Since his realistic ideas paralleled those of Brecht, who had arrived in Berlin in 1924, he soon became part of a so-called Brecht talent collective. In 1928 he directed the antiwar Mann ist Mann at the Volksbühne and then pre-miered The Threepenny Opera* at the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm. Although they had an uneven relationship, Engel directed every Brecht premiere that the playwright failed to direct personally; Brecht dubbed him the "Regisseur des wissenschaftlichen Zeitalters" (director of the scientific age). He remained in Nazi Germany, mostly directing Shakespeare but occasionally working with film.*
   REFERENCES:Benz and Graml, Biographisches Lexikon; Willett, Theatre of the Weimar Republic.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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