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Krigaren på scen: Krigarens makt och maktens krigare sedda genom scenkonstens prisma
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Culture and Aesthetics.
2016 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Warriors on Stage : The Power of the Warrior – Seen Through the Prism of Performing Arts (English)
Abstract [en]

The warrior has played an important role in most societies, often representing power. The military/ defence system is founded more or less on the ideal of the good and noble warrior. The aim of the thesis is to examine how the warrior's power has been expressed on stage in different times and different contexts. Three perspectives are discussed: 1) The warrior in society, 2) The warrior's self-image (ethos and warrior virtues), 3) The warrior in drama and on stage. In society, warriors in uniform are one means to increase dignity and give credibility to ceremonies. Society uses the same actions as theatre – music, choreography and costumes (parade uniforms). In the thesis there are some examples from the cultural history of the warrior (uniforms, gestures, music etc.). The principal part of the thesis is a study of the warrior as theatrical motif and a discussion of a series of warrior figures in literature and drama on stage. These figures are analysed from the perspectives of masculinity, play and historiography.

The warrior in literature and drama is rarely a hero. The thesis gives examples under the following headings. The submissive warrior: Catherine de Medici used the warrior as a pliable tool to reduce internal court quarrels, when they were commanded to participate in the court ballets. A different kind of docility in warriors is found in the nineteenth century English melodrama. The false and coward warrior: Ancient writers often used satire in their plays, and warrior figures were easy prey for this. Miles Gloriosus and the Capitain in Commedia dell’arte are two examples. The weak warrior: Anthony, in Anthony and Cleopatra by Shakespeare, is a warrior hero who abandons his wife and family to live with the Egyptian queen, attracted by the luxury and refined lifestyles at her court. The oppressed warrior: The Good Soldier Schweik, created by Bertolt Brecht after a story by Jaroslav Hasek, is an oppressed ordinary soldier in the Czech army, who faces oppression by doing exactly as he is told, and consequently is creating confusion. Georg Büchner’s drama Woyzeck contains an altogether deeper darkness. The outmanoeuvred warrior: The captains in August Strindberg’s two plays The Father and The Dance of Death are both in conflict with their wives but lose their fights. The optimistic warrior: Chekhov introduces in the play Three Sisters two warriors with bright visions of the future but also tells the audience that life can be a tragedy.

To portray the good and noble warrior is of course possible but it is seldom dramatic, whilst weak and lovesick, false and treacherous warriors are dramatically effective. The theatre's tradition of subversion is a variety of the ancient custom of 'turning society upside-down' during Lent, analysed by Michail Bakhtin in Rabelais and his World. The theatre is also a microcosm. The performing arts make use of the individual to criticize the whole. In drama, it is the individual warrior who bears the responsibility without the need to say anything about the armed forces. Sometimes this is done through the mirror of laughter. When the warrior is seen through the theatre's lens, the picture is enlarged and – according to physical principles, at a certain distance – shows the warrior as part of the upside-down world.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Institutionen för kultur och estetik, Stockholm Universtiy , 2016. , 265 p.
Theatron, ISSN 0348-2448
Keyword [en]
warriors, performing arts, theatre, masculinity, play, historiography, society, power
National Category
Performing Art Studies
Research subject
Theatre Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-128917ISBN: 978-91-86434-47-2OAI: diva2:917759
Public defence
2016-06-01, Auditorium, Humanistvillan, Frescativägen 24, Stockholm, 10:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2016-05-09 Created: 2016-04-07 Last updated: 2016-05-04Bibliographically approved

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