- A German court theater group, which became one of the mostinfluential companies in late 19th-century Europe. The company wasfounded in 1874 as the resident troupe at the court of Georg II, Dukeof Saxe-Meiningen (1826 - 1914); it was strongly promoted by hiswife, the actress Ellen Franz (1839 - 1923). The Dukehimself directed the plays and designed the costumes and scenery.He was joined in 1876 by the actor and director Ludwig Chronegk (1837 - 1891).The company had performed in some 38 European cities by the time Chronegk'shealth failed in 1890. The directors Konstantin Stanislavskyand André Antoine (1858 - 1943) were amongst those influencedby the company's realistic style.
The Meininger troupe developed ensemble acting (occasionallyrequiring such stars as August Bassermann and Josef Kainzto play minor roles), gave the director an enhanced interpretive role,demanded strict historical accuracy for sets and costumes, used experimentalstage lighting, introduced the naturalistic box set, andkept the stage action moving on different levels through the use ofsteps and rostrums.