Friedrich Ludwig Schröder

* 02.11.1744 in Schwerin; ✝ 03.09.1816 in Rellingen/ Hamburg

Actor, Theatre Director, Playwright



Friedrich Ludwig Schröder has received the epithet as the German theatre’s ‘father of German acting’ – an honour shared, however, with Ekhof, with whom he was not always in accord. He was born into a theatrical family in 1744. His mother, Sophie Charlotte Ackermann, re-married the theatre principal Konrad Ackermann after the death of Schröder’s father.  As a result his acquaintance with the world of the theatre began at an early age, and he was – in accordance with contemporary custom – also trained as an artist and dancer. In this world tensions were rife, and Schröder left his stepfather’s troupe (the Hamburg Enterprise) in 1766, and moved to Frankfurt to join Felix von Kurz (stage name: Bernardon) who was famous for his improvised style of acting. Schröder did not stay for long, and came back to Hamburg in 1771 to take over the direction of Ackermann’s company. He would continue in this position until 1780, returning for further spells at the helm between 1786 and 1796, and between 1811 and 1813.

There he mostly concentrated on bourgeois tragedy, promoting works by contemporary authors such as Lessing, Lenz or Goethe in this genre.  It was in this context that he instigated a series of works by Shakespeare, not simply performing the plays as intended, but adapting them so as to suit middle class theatrical expectations. In doing this, he did not hesitate to make severe changes to their dramaturgy and plot, and thus paved the way for Shakespeare to become ‘the national poet of Germany’. His notable performance of Hamlet in 1776 was followed by Othello, The Merchant of Venice, Measure for Measure, King Lear (all 1778) and Henry IV and Macbeth (both 1779). Schröder exerted his influence through numerous guest performances, and through the circulation of his Shakespeare adaptations in printed editions, which raised the plays from the world of the wandering players to that of the respectable theatre.



Primary Literature

Secondary Literature

Album pages with this person

Citation and Licence

Schröder, Friedrich Ludwig, in: The Digital Shakespeare Memorial Album. Edited by Christa Jansohn. URI: (Accessed on 30.05.2024)

This text is published under the following licence: CC BY-ND 3.0 DE. Digitzed media reproduced with the permission of the library of Birmingham.

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