By Kelleen Moriarty ’19
“Enhance the impression of reality – George II
George II, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen was born April 2, 1826 into the aristocracy of Saxe-Meiningen.
In his direction and production, George II focused heavily on making every aspect of the production a true imitation of life itself. With historically accurate costumes, sets, and props, he emphasized realism.
A life-long artist and theatre-enthusiast, George II founded his own court theatre group, the Meiningen Players, or the Meiningers. His interest in theatre was inspired by English theatre, particularly Charles Kean, during the social artistic transition between Romanticism and Naturalism, a shift that he aided in his work. George II acted as producer, backer, set and costume designer, and director (a position he virtually created) for the company. Beginning in 1871, the group toured over 35 European cities before the Duke retired the company, believing that he had accomplished his mission. In a 1914 article on George II, the Washington Post called claimed that “the ‘Meininger’… were the criterion by which all other serious actors were judged.” As producer, the Duke had an affinity for Shakespeare, and strived as a reviver to breathe new life into old, iconic, and historical works of drama.