WEEK 1 ENTRY
Ludvig Holberg - he has been my primary topic of interest over the last week. In "The History of Scandinavian Theatre" he is mentioned as "the foremost playwright of the eighteenth century in Scandinavia." He came at a time of "revolution and enlightenment," which planted the seed for the development of the first national theaters in Scandinavia a couple decades later. The book describes the era as "a period of restless activity and growth" - which is making me curious about the political background surrounding this time. Although I have not read Holberg's comedies yet, I know they most definitely reference the societal structures of the time because the book quotes that "many people became angry over [them]." The author actually describes him as the true counterpart to Moliere, which says a lot about him as a politically-charged playwright. So the next piece in the puzzle will be to discover what exactly about eighteenth century Scandinavian society he was critiquing and commenting on through his plays.
I started to look up some background information on the authors of the books we're considering our main sources for this project and found some interesting stuff. The author of "A History of Scandinavian Theatre" is not only a professor Emeritus of English and Drama at the U of Toronto who studied at both Harvard and Yale School of Drama, but is also a playwright himself, who writes modern adaptations of the works of famous Scandinavian playwrights. His plays have been performed in leading regional theaters in North America and in England.
Another author I researched was officially knighted for his contributions to Danish studies and is the main translator for most of Holberg's works.
WEEK 2 ENTRY
This week, when thinking about the research project, I have been trying to brainstorm specific ideas for our final presentation. We wanted to present our material in a performance-like style, which we all agreed would be more entertaining to an audience. We could play historical characters and bring in scene work and all other good stuff! So I've been trying to think of how we do this.. and what I've realized is that it is very hard to try and come up with fun, creative ideas when there is no solid structure of which to work inside. So what I plan to propose to the group tomorrow is a bit of a compromise to our original idea - which is to change the format of our presentation to a lecture. If we give ourselves the parameter of a lecture, then it will give us something definite to build our argument from, but through which we can also find moments of fun, interactive performance. For example, we can introduce a concept let's say about Holberg's theatricality, talk a little about it, show some pictures on a powerpoint, and then have someone acting as Holberg deliver a quote of his to the class. There is a lot of room to play within the "lecture arena" and I predict that once we start fleshing it out, more ideas will come popping up. Having a definite backbone to the presentation will help deliver the material more clearly and keep us on track with conveying our argument. And by adding in moments of play and creativity the class will stay engaged and hopefully achieve a deeper sense of the material.
I also learned this week that Holberg became disillusioned with the taste Scandinavian audience towards the end of the Danish Comedy period. Holberg, who always saw the audience as the number on priority when writing his plays, started to become angry at the "indifference" of the public when tickets weren't selling. He quotes "they no longer care if a play is well or poorly written, only if it ends with a song or a dance" - which is an interesting new perspective on our man, Holberg.
WEEK 3 ENTRY
Watching the first few presentations was a great opportunity to see what things worked and what things made the material difficult to follow. As we organize our presentation we should keep in mind some key things about the presentation of the information, so that the audience can easily follow our train of thought.
Firstly, we should state our argument fairly towards the beginning. With some of the presentations it was hard to distinguish what information was relevant to the thesis and what was extraneous. Making our thesis as clear as possible from the beginning and continually referencing back to it will help keep the audience with us.
We should also be aware of what exactly we what to have on our powerpoint slides. Presentations that I clearly followed had just key points in the presentation - which made it easier to follow what I should be getting from their presentation.
Following up with our post-presentation discussion, I agree that it was much easier to pay attention when there was something funny or surprising, or if there was unexpected contemporary reference to help me place it more into a present day context. Examples of this were, the Arrested Development archetypes, the hot Peter Pan Picture, and just simple jokes (whether they were funny or not). I think our "in the flesh Holberg" worked in this respect to grab the audiences attention during that section of the presentation, but we could've worked in more moments like that throughout the piece. I'm glad that we introduced our frame and our argument early in the presentation, because I think the audience could more easily follow our chain of thought, but when we starting running low in time, I think we lost a lot of the evidence behind our argument. So the words were there, but we didn't have time to really show all of our support and analysis. But overall, I felt the presentation went well! I felt that the audience was fairly engaged for the most part, and at least enjoyed seeing Dan in funny clothes.