Leopold Jessner

Leopold Jessner (* 3. March 1878 in king mountain; † 30. October 1945 in Hollywood) was a German theatre and film director. It is considered as important representatives of the stage expressionism and the political theatre of the twenties. Admits became it besides as a creator of the “Jessner stairs”.

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Leopold Jessner began as an actor on different stages, before he became theatre leader. Until 1930 the eastPrussian Patriot for the Thalia theatre in Hamburg ( upper play leader 1905-1915) worked, the new Schauspielhaus in king mountain (director 1915-1919), as a director of the national Schauspielhauses in Berlin (1919-1928), then as a general manager of the play stages of the national theatre Berlin (1928-1930), the prominent stages of the Weimar Republic. Jessners contract as general managers was converted 1930 into a direction contract, which was dissolved 1933 by the national socialists. Jessner was considered as a representative of the expressionistischen stage direction and as Protagonist of the contemporary political theatre and was member of the board of the cent ral association of German citizens of Jewish faith. Its working for the film presents itself as accompaniment and by-product of its theatre work, among them productions Hintertreppe (1921 with Paul Leni as a CO director) and earth spirit (1923 after franc Wedekind).

1934 emigrierte Jessner after an appearance abroad Western European first to Great Britain, where he tried unsuccessfully to create a film company. it went to 1935 to Palestine and 1937 then into the USA. There he worked as a lector at MGM.

theatre-historical meaning

famous became a director by the “Jessner stairs”. It concerns an independent stage stage, since Jessners the citizens of Berlin beginning production William of the Tell (1919), which led to a theatre scandal, which formed center of Jessners strictly arranged, space and timeless stage areas and by those the director the core of its text materials to carrying to bring wanted. Jessners production style was characterised by an accurate Choreographie, symbolic gestures and an arrangement, extreme szenische shortage and a clenched, rhythmisierte language.

Jessner came an important role as a promoter of young authors such as Bertolt breaks, young directors such as Jürgen Fehling and actor such as Fritz Kortner too.


  • writings. Theatre of the twenties. Hrsg. of Hugo Fetting. Berlin: Henschel 1979.


  • Karl Theodor Bluth: Leopold Jessner. Berlin: Oesterheld, 1928.
  • Ludwig Marense: “Leopold Jessner: of the Tell I to Tell II to Tell III ". In: The time, 1958. On-line version

Web on the left of

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| | * Literature of and over Leopold Jessner in the catalog of the DDB



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