- (1720 - 78) German actor and director, who greatly influencedthe development of the German dramatic tradition. Born in Hamburg,Ekhof joined Johann Friedrich Schönemann's company in 1739 andremained with it for 17 years. During this period he introduced thenew naturalistic style of acting in adaptations of French plays andin such works as George Lillo's The London Merchant and Lessing'sMiss Sara Sampson.
In 1753 Ekhof opened an Academy of Acting at Schwerin; amongstthe subjects discussed was the social responsibility of the actor.In 1767 he joined Konrad Ackermann in his attempt to establish a GermanNational Theatre in Hamburg but left because of professional rivalrywith Ackermann's stepson, the actor Friedrich Schröder.
Ekhof subsequently toured for several years with Abel Seyler(1730 - 1801) before joining the Court Theatre in Weimar wherehe acted under Goethe; Ekhof was able to give the writeranecdotal material about the theatrical profession to use in WilhelmMeister. In 1775 Ekhof became chief actor and director for thenew Court Theatre at Gotha, inviting the 16-year-old August Ifflandto join his company. Ekhof's farewell performance was as the Ghostin Schröder's version of Hamlet.