We see Scandinavian culture nearly everyday in Minnesota, especially during those cold winters when we have a craving for some good old comedy drama like the Church Basement Ladies. These ladies are some of the most crazy people you will ever watch and boy do they enjoy their Scandinavian heritage! The very first meal they prepare in the musical is a Lutefisk supper as for modern day drama it doesn’t get any more Scandinavian than that Folks. I have often wondered though, how our Scandinavian ancestors came across theatre and drama. Our Scandinavian ancestors paved a road of rich history and culture, but little is known about their focus on drama. It is my personal goal to shed light on the early history of Scandinavian drama.
“Rich in its history and traditions...the Scandinavian theatre has nevertheless remained relatively unexplored” (Marker ix). Scandinavia is most well known for their Norman (Northmen) culture that was most prominent during the dark ages and encompasses the following countries of Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, and Denmark (Bates prologue). The Normans were “nothing but rude barbarians” that had inhabited northern Europe which we now call Scandinavia, the landscape was as distinct as the culture. A Viking was the occupation of choice for the Norse men, and because of this rude barbaric culture little is known about the drama in the specific time era that ranged from 874-934 (Bates prologue). Due to the influences of the Norman’s Pagan religious beliefs it is best predicted that they participated in ritual dramas and reenactments of stories (Gunnell 15).
These ritual dramas were produced as worship for the Norse gods, this mythology gives insight of the intelligence and morality of their culture rather than the barbaric ways of the Vikings. The Mythological ways of the Normans “reveals a most weird and profound interpretation of the world about them” (Bates 1-2). Myths and rituals were the seeds of Scandinavian drama, but drama really started to bloom after the Vikings started to colonize in Iceland. Many Norwegians moved to Iceland during this time the effect was a large boom in population, the largest population Iceland has ever had (Bates 3). Due to the position of Iceland and with Viking protection Iceland became the true home to old Norse literature (Bates 2). During the “land-taking” period of 874-934 the Vikings helped make Scandinavia leaders in “not only war and politics, but also in literature and art” (Bates 3).
Around 300 years later...