dose0017: November 2012 Archives

SCULPT! (Our Argument)

Vote 0 Votes

Our argument/thesis statement in a few sentences:

The genesis of a culturally specific Scandinavian theatre began with the founding of the Gronnegrade Teatret (Green Street Theatre) in 1722 and the commission of writer Ludvid Holberg as playwright. Previous to this time, Scandinavian culture was stifled and largely steeped in foreign influence. The success of this genesis, exemplified by The Danish Comedy, was caused by the sheer will of Holberg. However, the true cultural awakening, which was Holberg's goal, was unable to take place being driven by a one man revolution, without the support of the people who were repressed under an absolute Monarch.

One of the articles which I read dubs Holberg the "Nordic Molière." While that particular article did not make such claims, some argue that Holberg was not in fact creating an original Scandinavian artistic culture, but rather a direct descendent of the larger European, and most commonly French, culture that he wished to separate their art from. We intend to incorporate this opposing viewpoint into our presentation and address its merits and weaknesses.

1. We've decided to divide sections of the information among each other, allowing for each person roughly a 4 minute time slot. At least, that is the idea currently. As we establish, for example how much historical background is truly needed/there is time for, we will allocate that time accordingly. Furthermore, each of us, has sort of naturally fallen into particular areas of research and we hope to divvy up the spoken sections accordingly, so that each person is speaking about the topic with which they are most comfortable and informed. Our presentation will now be structured into a lecture format, and we've organized our argument through an outline with multiple sections. First the argument is introduced, historical context, theatrical context, and biographical context. In this way, by positioning ourselves to speak on the topics that we are the most familiar with, we should be able to highlight the work and research of each member of our group.

2. (As discussed more articulately above) The main idea we're trying to present is that the rise and fall of Danish theatre at this point in history is indicative of an attempt to create a distinct cultural/artistic identity by Holberg. However, though the seed was planted, his efforts eventually dissolved due to the nature of an absolute monarchy and a relative disinterest from the populace at large. By choosing this specific subset of history to address we hope to provide our classmates with an interesting snapshot of a, relatively short, period of time that was not only crucial to the history of Scandinavian theatre, but also the cultural development of the region at large. By keeping the time frame which we are addressing short in terms of years, and adding performative elements where possible to keep their interest, our goal is strike a balance.

3. As has been hinted at in the two previous questions, we have decided to change our format, at least somewhat. We've decided to shape our presentation into a lecture format. This decision was reached today for a number of reasons, the most primary of which being that our research had led us in such a direction that, given the time constraints of the presentation, as well as its goals, it seemed to be the best choice. Now, that having been said, we still hope to keep some of the performance aspects that we had previously intended to encompass the whole of our presentation. For example, we may still have one group member read quotations as Holberg and we will almost certainly, for the sake of illustration, perform snippets from "The Political Tinker." Our hope is that the slightly more traditional structure will allow us clarity in the discussion of our topic, while remaining succinct and retaining part of our want for an embodiment of this era in the space provided.

I stumbeled upon this and it would seem project gutenberg offers free online versions of this text. So if you guys haven't read it yet,
have at it.

Someone should let me know one way or another, because one thing that I have not yet figured out since beginning this project is exactly how to create another blog still linked in to our group blog in some way. Maybe this is it. Maybe I'm writing this and it will enter The piece of geography that the University lays claims to in internet land and be lost forever.

In any event. This week I have primarily been focusing my research upon the history surrounding the frame of our research project, as well as focusing a bit upon Holberg himself. A few things have stood out. Primarily I spent some time reading Selected Essays of Ludvig Holberg The man, while primarily known in regards to Scandinavian Literature and Theatre, was also, during his time, known for his philosophical writings. Some of these essays are included in this collection. Some are on serious topics, others not so much. A few were quite pertinent, though I must confess to reading his ode to coffee/tea/tobacco as well, in which he defends his consumption of them and proclaims their health benefits (67).

The most interesting essay that I have read thus far has been "Good and Bad Comedies" (95). In this essay he discusses, amongst other things, that plays originally written in other languages and translated for Danish audiences have not fared well traditionally, with the exception of Molière. He claims that this has been the case, without the audience knowing, or even caring who the author of the play might be. He attributes this to the Danish audience being a more discerning type of audience than that of the Parisians. "Since in all countries Molière's comedies are considered to be masterpieces and since our Northern spectators can stomach only very few of the comedies written after Molière's time, one can be adjudge their taste to good." (95).

This series of essays are from a larger volume of essays in Danish that were released during Holbergs lifetime, though from this collection it is not made clear what essays appeared when. That having been said, it does seem to relate to the call for a truly Danish comedy, the likes of which is the focus of our topic. Having commented that many notice that the same plays are staged to frequently, Holberg dismisses by this tactic, one of the two options presented: translating the newest French and English plays. That only leaves creating new, Danish, plays as a way to answer this problem. He tells the reader that it has been done before and it can be done again. He takes this opportunity to place himself in the company of Molière, mentioning that "it is because of the applause of such [Danish] spectators that I have a good opinion of my own dramas, for I have seen them stand up against Molière's comedies in our theatre, whereas most of the translated pieces cannot do so." (97-98).

I look forward to reading some of Holberg's plays this week and seeing whether to my mind they do, in fact, stand up to Molière.

Despite this mention of his Danish plays as a positive note, this essay would seem to have been written after the "failure" of the "Danish Play" project. He does not seem to recommend translating pieces from other countries, as to him they are nearly all terrible, nor does he recommend the creation of new works. "Experience has shown that innumerable authors have tried in vain ... I cannot advise anyone to venture out into such waters" (96). As far is he is concerned, for an essay entitled Good and Bad Comedies, there are apparently only bad ones. "It may be said that from the the age of Plautus until Molière, a period of two thousand years, no drama of note of which anything is known came into being" (97).

These are no longer the words of a man who sees a strong future for the theatre.
Interesting stuff.

Holberg, Ludvig. Selected Essays of Ludvig Holberg. Ed. P. M. Mitchell. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1955. Print.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries written by dose0017 in November 2012.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.