Talk about an over-achiever – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a statesman, a poet, a scientist, an author and a playwright. In retrospect, calm down Johann, calm down! You’re making the rest of us look bad! Born in Frankfurt in 1729, Goethe was – like most great artists, encouraged to do law by his family. An excellent visual artist he was a big fan of the touring puppet shows and theatre of the time. Amongst all of this talent, it was his writing which was the most powerful and by the age of 25 he was one of the first literary celebrities, arguably writing the first fictional bestseller, The Sorrows of Young Werther essentially a 1700s Da Vinci Code with less illuminati and more suffering of a man of the time.
Goethe became a member of the Duke’s privy council, sat on the war and highway commissions and implemented a series of administrative reforms at the University of Jena. He also contributed to the planning of Weimar’s botanical park and the rebuilding of its Ducal Palace. Goethe’s first major scientific work, the Metamorphosis of Plants, was published in 1788 after a trip to Italy. In 1791 he was made managing director of the theatre at Weimar, and began a friendship with the dramatist, historian, and philosopher Friedrich Schiller, whose plays he premiered until Schiller’s death in 1805. During this period Goethe published his second novel, Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship; the verse epic Hermann and Dorothea, and, in 1808 part one of Faust.
Goethe is one of the most famous playwrights and poets of all time and his version of the tale of Faust has become completely entwined into modern society and culture. When it comes to doing deals with the Devil, Goethe is the OG.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Best Plays
- Faust pt 1
- Faust pt 2
- Iphigenia in Tauris
- Torquato Tasso
Goethe also has a powerful quote which is more than appropriate for all actors, he said:
‘Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.’
If that isn’t the most poetic application of an approach to objective, I don’t know what is. It is not enough to intellectual apply an objective, it is not enough to will it into existence you must do it, actively and without remorse!
Check out the plays of Goethe anywhere they sell plays online, and if you want some more experience practicing those objectives, why not sign up for the StageMilk Scene Club here!