Oldest baroque theatre with functioning stage machinery
The Ekhof Theatre is located in Friedenstein Castle in Gotha and is a worldwide speciality. It is the oldest baroque theatre with functioning stage machinery from the 17th century, which can still be operated manually today.
The theatre has a scenery stage with fast-changing machinery. This means that all the backdrops can be operated synchronously and fast scene changes with up to three images are possible with the curtain open. Even the sinking machinery, which used to make people or objects disappear, is still intact today. An airframe that could lift people into the sky of the scenery, on the other hand, is no longer preserved today.
Visit to the Ekhof Theatre
Today the Ekhof-Theater can be visited. The stage is still being used every summer for the Ekhof-Festival with operas and plays in 17th and 18th century style, as true to the original as possible. Readings, concerts and the "Week of Historical Theatres" also take place here.
Duke Friedrich I von Sachen-Gotha-Altenburg had the theatre built into the former ballroom of the castle. There it served only as a pedagogical measure: the children of the ducal family and of the higher courtly civil service should learn to express themselves freely in front of an audience and at the same time get to know the classical works.
From 1755 it was one of the first German court theatres to be equipped with a permanent ensemble of actors, they received a fixed salary and even a pension.
Under the direction of Conrad Ekhof, the theatre experienced its heyday from 1775 to 1778 and became the centre of German theatre culture. Pieces by Shakespeare, Goldoni, Molière, Voltaire, Diderot, Lessing, Gotter and Brandes were performed, and the paying middle classes were also admitted.
In the 19th century the operation of the Ekhof Theatre also came to a standstill with the construction of the Gotha City Theatre.
How to get there
You can reach the Ekhof Theater in Friedenstein Castle Gotha via the A4 Frankfurt/Main - Dresden. Take the Gotha or Gotha-Boxberg exit. Also via the B7 Kassel Gera and the B247 Mühlhausen-Gotha-Suhl.
Parking spaces are nearby, see map.