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Two Early Norwegian Dramatic Societies in Chicago*
By Napier Wilt and Henriette C. Koren Naeseth (Volume X: Page 44)

* This article owes its inception to the study of Scandinavian theatricals in Chicago undertaken as part of the history of the theater in Chicago, which is being prepared at the University of Chicago under Dr. Napier Wilt. Ed.

As students of American life and literature are becoming increasingly aware of the cultural problems and contributions of the immigrant, the story of the theatrical activities of various national groups in America is gradually being recorded. German, French, and Yiddish theatricals have been widely reported, and their importance has been commonly accepted. The extent to which immigrants from other countries have maintained their cultures through drama is, however, generally unguessed. That Scandinavians early evidenced and long maintained an interest in their native theater has been known through scattered records only. As a beginning in the direction of a more complete story of their presentation of Scandinavian drama in America, this article will relate the early history of the drama in Norwegian in Chicago, which reveals itself as a splendid example of the significance of immigrant efforts in the theater.

With the decade 1860-70 came the period of mass emigration from Norway. {1} The majority of the emigrants were seeking farms, but a distinct Norwegian colony was formed in the important urban center of Chicago. Within this decade there were two successful attempts to enliven the society of this colony through Norwegian drama. The first was led by Marcus Thrane, who directed a series of theatrical performances from 1866 to 1868; the second, which probably grew out of his efforts, was sponsored by the first organized Norwegian dramatic society in Chicago of which we have records, the Norske Dramatiske Forening, which presented plays from 1868 to 1872. The significance of these early enterprises is clear, although they loom small against the background of Chicago's theatrical history, and even against the more restricted background of Scandinavian theatricals in Chicago; for they preceded many societies among the three Scandinavian groups there which have flourished up to the present day.

The career in Norway of Marcus Thrane, the young Norwegian of distinguished family who suffered imprisonment and exile for his work as a pioneer labor leader and reformer, is well known. Of his varied activities after he came to America in 1863, his journalism is best remembered. Coming to Chicago after a year in New York, he began in 1865 the publication of Den norske amerikaner, which he sold in 1866. There he also intermittently published Dagslyset, a philosophic religious monthly, from 1869 to 1873. {2} Of his attempts to further the cultural life of his countrymen in Chicago through the theater there remains hardly a trace. In 1927 Scandia reprinted from the Litterære Samfund's Forum an article by "Per i Stua" (Carl Berg) giving recollections of the Norwegian theater in Chicago, with the laudable intention of encouraging the preservation in book form of what the national group has achieved in this field. A brief paragraph recalls that in 1867-68 Marcus Thrane produced a few small pieces, some of which he wrote himself, as Et uskikkelig pigebarn. {3} Known Thrane papers offer no fuller record, though the theatricals remained a happy family tradition. {4} Fortunately, Skandinaven yields facts that present a fairly clear picture of the activities of the "Norsk Theater" or "Norsk National Theater" group which acted under Thrane's leadership. {5}

That the important function of this group was early recognized is shown by an article in Skandinaven for November 15, 1866, after two productions had been given. One wonders if the contributor who thus encouraged the enterprise might have been Thrane himself.

It is with true pleasure that we observe the many small traces which recently appear of the progress of enlightenment and cultivated society among our countrymen here, and as one of these we permit ourselves to point out the newly established National Theater. [A comment on type of play and performance is followed by a plea for financial support.] Our theater has many small struggles to withstand and not the easiest is to meet the many expenses connected with it; it naturally mainly behooves Scandinavians to help in this regard. Let us therefore unite in patronizing and encouraging the little step forward on the path of culture and show other nationalities that there also exists among Scandinavians a taste for the beautiful.

Thrane's interest in reform is reflected in the plays from his pen of which the content is known; but the general repertory, as well as the dancing that followed each performance, suggest that social and cultural aims motivated the project also. Skandinaven's characterization of the early pieces as light and entertaining holds true for the majority of the thirty-two plays which were seen on twenty-one evenings. {6} There were eighteen one-act plays, of which eight were lystspils, light comedies, and ten sangspils, song pieces; three vaudeville monologues were given. Of the six two-act plays, one was vaudeville and five were national song pieces. Two of Holberg's five-act comedies and one act of an Oehlenschlæger tragedy were played. The list of plays will have more meaning in connection with the fuller study of the Norske Dramatiske Forening's more extensive repertory and will be given with it. We will notice here only a few facts as to their origins and the nature of Thrane's own plays. A considerable proportion of the repertory, eleven out of thirty-two, were Danish. {7} From the French came seven plays, from the German two, one play was of Italian source, and only three were strictly Norwegian, if we exclude Thrane's five plays. {8} Three remain unidentified. For eight of the non-Scandinavian plays the adaptations were Danish. Ivar Aasen's Ervingen of 1855, Gjæst Baardsen, by M. Møller, and Til sæters, by C. P. Riis, were the three Norwegian plays. Seven of the plays were given more than once, making a total of forty-one on the twenty-one evenings; of the seven, four were Thrane's own. Those by other authors seen twice were Bøgh's En caprice, Heiberg's Emilies hjertebanken, and H. C. Andersen's adaptation, En nat i Roeskilde, all entertaining in nature. Two of Thrane's were apparently light conventional vaudevilles, Doktor mod doktor and Et uskikkelig pigebarn. {9}

The imprint of Thrane's more serious purposes is seen in two of his plays of which we know more, Skydsskiftet i Hallingdal, performed four times, and Syttende mai, performed twice, first on May 17, 1867. Both are designated as two-act national song pieces. To these we are tempted to add the unidentified En amerikansk tjeneste pige. A brief review points out as the chief purpose of the first of these plays the contrast between rich and poor, between the English traveler and the Norwegian bonde or farm proprietor, but there is no further clue to the plot. The setting was a beautiful Norwegian mountain scene. {10} For Syttende mai a full synopsis is given; and this play is one of the most interesting features of this chapter of Thrane's life and of the early Norwegian immigrant theater.

Syttende mai was an immigrant play, with the scene of the first act in Norway and of the second in America. Its main character, Nils, a husmand who has always cursed the idea of America, is refused, by the bonde whom he serves, a holiday on the Seventeenth of May, the anniversary of the Eidsvold constitution and Norway's independence day. {11} Nils defies his master, despite his wife's fears, and when he is threatened with revenge he decides to emigrate to the Far West, where "Hope's star still beckoned." He is encouraged by his son, who has dared to become engaged to the daughter of the bonde, and must make his fortune. In America things go well in spite of some romantic complications. The son's sweetheart remains true, though she has not received her lover's letters, and eventually she finds happiness with him. There is a touch of local color in her delayed arrival when she is left behind by an immigrant train. Their reunion was not, however, sufficiently moving to meet the expectations of the reviewer. A young seminarian who had been refused by Nils's daughter in Norway because he could not dance is again refused in America, though he has remedied the deficiency. He finds consolation in Miss Clark, an unemotional American in whom Nils's daughter has tried to interest her brother.

It is evident that the second act is much less serious than the first, the bashful seminarian in particular being used as a source of humor. The spirit of the act may be reflected in the satirical flavor of the review, as in the description of Nils in America --- he has washed his face and acquired the dress of a prosperous American farmer. The wife and daughter are attractively dressed and thoroughly "Yankeeficerede," and the son has a genuine "Yankee sving." The reviewer approves the play as naturally of great interest to "us Norwegian Americans," and interprets it as a criticism of the misuse and neglect of the 1814 constitution rather than of the constitution itself. A suggestion of conservatism may be found in the remark that Norway's freedom is shown here in its darkest side, and it is too much to expect that law can remove the oppression of the poor by the rich. There is a similar suggestion in the opinion that Nils's defiance may have resulted from his having drunk a skaal to freedom. {12}

Thrane was not mentioned by name in the few brief reviews in Skandinaven, but his son and daughter, A. Thrane and Miss Wally Thrane, were commended for their dramatic talent, he for enacting Nils in Syttende mai, and she for her role in Jakob yon Tyboe. An anonymous critic sent an unfavorable article about this performance which was not printed, and Skandinaven in its praise referred to a laudatory notice in Svensk amerikaneren. Settings and acting as a whole received favorable comment. Especially praised was the tableau, "17 mai, 1814," which concluded an elaborate program. Marcus Thrane was named as director in some of the announcements, and he and his daughter were the recipients of benefits. {13} There is no indication of the financial outcome of any performances.

Whether Thrane was motivated by a serious interest in the theater or whether his "National Theater" in Chicago simply illustrates his overflowing energy and readiness to use every possible means to better conditions for Norwegians wherever they were, it seems unquestionable that the productions under his leadership had a stimulating effect. It is reasonable to view the Norske Dramatiske Forening as an outgrowth of that stimulus. The last of the Thrane performances was given February 25, 1868; the Forening was founded March 12 and first performed March 28 of that year, in the same place where Thrane had produced his plays, German Hall. A direct reference to the relationship is found in a review of the March 28 performance, in which, commending the actors for knowing their roles, the writer says this was not always true under the former regime. Moreover, several of the men who became mainstays of the Forening had acted with Thrane: Wærness, Howland, Ross, and Müller. There was also considerable duplication of repertory for the two groups. {14}

Fortunately we are not dependent on newspapers for the history of the Norske Dramatiske Forening. Through most of its existence its records were kept; for the first two years meticulously. The Protocol of the society was preserved by the group that carried on its ideals, the Bjørgvin singing society of Chicago. {15} It is almost unique in the shifting and evasive world of theatrical history to have a record such as this Protocol. It lists the plays performed, numbering the performances up to thirty-five; the programs for thirty-two of the society's productions are included; accounts are given in detail; and in its minutes the problems of membership, finance, and organization are disclosed. Its 136 pages conclude with a list of the society's library. It shows, moreover, the Forening's connections with the dramatic, literary, and national movements in Norway from the period which was producing that country's chief dramatists, Ibsen and Bjørnson. Particularly interesting is the relation of the Chicago society to Norway's first national theater in Bergen, an institution in which both Ibsen and Bjørnson were active.

The founding of the Norske Dramatiske Forening of Chicago on March 12, 1868, {16} is recorded in a flourishing hand on the title page of its Protocol, and beneath it the motto, Ej blot til lyst (Not for fun only). {17} There is no list of members, and there is no record of the adoption of a constitution until January, 1871, though the ouster of a member on May 16, 1868, implies the existence of a body of rules. {18} In the chronological account here presented, the organization of the society will be discussed incidentally and in connection with the 1871 constitution. A brief note regarding the personnel is part of the later discussion, and a study of repertory follows the article.

Five performances were given in the spring of 1868, on March 28, April 6, April 27, May 16, and June 13, all at German Hall, at the corner of Indiana and Wells. The beginnings were not altogether propitious. Disappointingly small houses greeted the first three productions, and though the theater rental was only $26.50, a deficit of $61.88 was accumulated. {19} The second performance was announced as a benefit for needy immigrants, but to no avail The April 27 audience was meager, and, in the opinion of Skandinaven, the performance deserved a better house. The May 16 plays, however, drew a better crowd, probably because of the approaching holiday. {20} The secretary happily recorded a well satisfied audience and a merry evening. The encouraged members spent the Seventeenth together, and expressed their hope for the future of the society with the skaal:

Gid at foreningen bestaa!
Klink med hverandre! Skaal derpaa! {21}

This performance reduced the deficit to $18.05. For the first time the proceeds of a bar were noted in the receipts. It was decided also to conclude each meeting with a dance lasting until 3:O0 A. M., and to raise the prices to fifty cents for adults and twenty-five cents for children. Despite the harmonious holiday gathering, the society's records here give the first hint of disagreements, of which, like other theatrical enterprises and amateur organizations, the Forening had its share, for a man was voted out of membership for his failure to bring necessary music to rehearsals. Withdrawal of another member apparently was not actuated by any trouble. {22}

During this spring season three of the society's performances were accorded reviews by Skandinaven, which found much to praise in the general warmth and life of the acting and in the interpretations of individual actors, but did not hesitate to score amateurish and uncertain performers. Rata-plan, given both April 27 and May 16, seems to have been the most successful and popular play. The tableau of May 17, with its presentation of a day amidst the mountains of Norway, was well received, as had been the possibly similar tableau given by Thrane's group the year before. {23}

Seven performances are recorded for the fall of 1868. Receipts increased with the first production, August 24, but not until after the August $0 play did the treasurer receive the $46.70 owing him, and the society find itself with a balance of $19.00. Stormy applause could also be noted for this play; and though the reception of the performances of September 28, October 12, November 30, and December 26 was more moderately reported, the tone is one of satisfaction. The only criticism in the minutes appears in a statement that at the December 26 performance one member was uncertain in his lines and another could not be heard. The ticket sale for December 26 brought in $464.50, the largest amount recorded in the Protocol. The lowest receipts were $35.00 on April 6, 1868. The profits of $107.74 of November 80 and $295.40 of December 26, 1868, were divided among the members of the society. {24}

With eight performances on January 2, February 14, February 20, March 13, April 19, April 24, May 17, and July 4, 1869, the 1868-69 season achieved a record of fifteen productions, the highest in the society's history. The next two seasons show almost as much activity, however, with twelve and ten productions, respectively, and a trip to Madison, Wisconsin, in October, 1869. {25} In the second half of the 1868-69 season, the affairs of the society continued to run smoothly. If there were no great profits, there were no losses. And the society was sufficiently exclusive to reject unanimously an application for membership.

The event of the fall of 1869 was the journey to Madison, where performances were presented on two evenings. Skandinaven gives the program for two evenings and hails the venture as an opportunity for Madison and its vicinity to obtain a real artistic treat. {26} According to the secretary's report, the interest was as much convivial as artistic. A German newspaper of Madison gave a similar emphasis in referring to the sadness of farewell for those who had looked too deep into the eyes of one of the women of the company, but commended the performance warmly. {27} The social purpose filled by the society in this period is seen further in mention of a serenade given to one of its supporters, and of a ball held after a chorus rehearsal. Plans were made to furnish a social hall, but there is no record that they were carried out. {28} Funds were low throughout the season, though some of its benefits seem to have been successful. Performances for August 15, August 23, September 25, November 6, November 29, December 25, December 31, and March 26 are recorded in the Protocol. There was also a performance of uncertain date between July 4 and August 15, 1869, {29} a twenty-ninth performance between December 31, 1869, and March 26, 1870, {30} and two performances, the thirty-first and thirty-second by the society, between March 26 and August 7, 1870. {31} Though the advertisement in Skandinaven for March 30, 1870, does not mention the Forening, the benefit it announces for April 9, for Henrik Sporeland, one of the society's most active members, is almost certainly one of these missing performances, and is so considered in the further analyses. The twenty-ninth performance was a benefit for the treasurer, R. Anderson, to whom the society had been indebted during the first period of its losses. With the performance of September 25 was recorded the first loss of this season. {32} Though the receipts for the Christmas play were $295.35, the New Year's Eve entertainment must have had strong competition, for only $64.80 was taken in, and for the two evenings the deficit was $66.92. {33}

The new officers who were elected and installed in June, 1870, faced a troublesome autumn. The season began on August 7 with a benefit which was only fairly successful. Several meetings seem to have accomplished little, and two November productions, on the seventh and nineteenth, completed the fall schedule. They resulted in losses, and after the first a loan of $50.00 was obtained from Gilbert Olson, who had charge of the bar. {34} There were further difficulties in regard to the director and the assignment of roles, and the general situation called forth several discussions about future plans and possible union with other Norwegian dramatic forces. Some such union seems to have been effected. {35} At any rate, conditions were sufficiently bright to warrant renting a hall, with Gilbert Olson as guarantor, for every second Sunday beginning January 15, 1871. {36} Some performances had already been given at the Aurora or West Side Turner Hall, and though there was some doubt that it would again be available, the society's subsequent performances for which a place is named were given there. After November 19, 1870, regular accounts are discontinued in the Protocol.

In spite of the regular monthly performances of 1871 (for the spring season they fell on January 15, February 12, March 12, April 16, May 17, June 11, and July 4), it is evident that the affairs of the society were unsettled. Besides the difficulty of finding a suitable theater, there were clashes of temperament. They are reflected in several resignations which appear in the minutes of April 3 and 19. A. L. Sahl, evidently one of the members recruited from another group, was granted a benefit at the March 29 meeting, but his crankiness was noted in the April 17 minutes, and on April 19 he resigned, thereby preventing the resignation of another member, who accused him of drunken insults. Of the four April 3 resignations, two are formal and courteous, but two amuse us now as they did the society at the time. Herr Müller sadly admitted that after three years in the society he saw that they had not ennobled or benefited themselves or the public, and he found it wise to devote himself to a cultivation of the noble philosophic works of Socrates, Aristotle, and Plato. Miss Elise Struck had equally high aims; moreover, she accused the casting committee of taking pleasure in tormenting some of the members by placing them in roles beneath their talents. "No! then let me rather offer my time in the reading of Schiller's and Goethe's works." Since she was striving to attain the heights of Greek Parnassus, to which the paths of the Norske Dramatiske Forening did not lead, their ways had to part. On May 12, the resignation of one of the society's oldest and most prominent members, Henrik Sporeland, was accepted with regret. He gave way, he said, to greater ability, but wished to remain a friend of the society, and would attend to his affairs, not follow the popular custom of studying Socrates or any other "Krates." {37} Other resignations and new members are less worthy of note, changes being fairly constant throughout the history of the society.

Shift was made to insure better financial success, but to little avail. The society's Seventeenth of May entertainment was carried out jointly with a Scandinavian band; but even though the generous Gilbert Olson gave them a free hand with the bar, no profits were reported. A performance undertaken independently on July 4, however, gave each member $5.00. {38}

It was at the beginning of 1871 that the constitution which is found in the Protocol was adopted. {39} In general, it seems to formulate preceding practice, but some of its rulings were evidently dictated by difficulties which had developed from time to time. Its nineteen points provided for four officers, a president, regisseur, treasurer, and secretary, and for the selection of a wardrobe master. The president was to set the time for meetings, according to the convenience of members, to determine the vote in case of a tie, and to act as archivist. The duties of the regisseur were to give out roles and see that they were returned, to look after properties, stage, and curtain. A troublesome question was eared for by the provision that the instructor elected by the society was to share the assignment of roles with a committee of two. {40} Every member was requested to accept his assigned role and to comply with the instructor.

Members were to be present at rehearsals unless they had valid excuses for absence, and in that case they were to notify the president. Though the membership limit is stated as ten men, there were active women members also. The women were, however, paid for each performance, active members receiving $5.00, non-members $2.50, and other assisting women according to agreement with the president. {41} The men seemingly were paid according to the regulation in paragraph 16, that when the treasury contained more than a hundred dollars surplus, it was to be divided among active members. {42} Inactive membership was also provided for, and only members were allowed at rehearsals. {43} Plays were to be chosen by general agreement, and the majority was to rule in all matters except the ousting of members, which required a two-thirds majority. The accepted aim of the society was to give fortnightly performances, preferably on Sundays or holidays, in a theater rented by the president. This officer was required to sign the name of the society in the manager's book, and his signature was necessary to all payments. A further effort to be businesslike is shown by the provision that the accounts for the card were to be rendered after each performance. {44}

But the history of the Norske Dramatiske Forening was drawing to a close. Turner Hall was rented, according to the minutes of August 10, 1871, for six evenings, at a cost of $50.00 an evening with the gallery and $45.00 without it. Performances on four of the evenings named --- September 10, October 8, November 19, and December 26, with an earlier performance on August 6 --- conclude the record now in the Protocol. Surprisingly, it contains no comment on the performance which was interrupted by the Chicago fire. A later newspaper article tells that the actors saved their clothes only, and that the dress of one of the women caught fire as they crossed the river. {45} On November 19 they gave a benefit for the fire sufferers, the proceeds of which, $175.00, were sent as a gift to the Norwegian consul in Chicago. On December 3 another successful benefit was held for the president, Carlos Ross. It was made eventful by the presence of Ole Bull and his son, and a congratulatory farewell visit by the violinist to Ross's dressing room. {46}

Two or three additional performances are known to have been given in 1872 by a group including A. Fougner, J. W. Arctander, and Anker Midling. {47} Whatever the Protocol had to say of their activities is lost, for several pages following page 79 have been torn out, perhaps by someone who did not wish to make an unpleasant story part of the society's permanent record. No individuals are named in Skandinaven's note about an able Seventeenth of May performance of Tordenskjold i dynekilen by the Norske Dramatiske Forening, the only definite record for 1872. {48} Arctander's earlier relations with Carlos Ross and other mainstays of the organization give an idea of the way in which the Norske Dramatiske Forening disintegrated. {49} On October 17, 1870, Arctander had been made instructor, with the agreement that he was to suggest the plays to be performed. He did this, and also, upon request, drew up the plans for the constitution. On November 25 it was decided that President Ross was to consult a lawyer in regard to procedure with Arctander. {50} In March, 1871, Arctander's request for permission to read a play of his composition to the society was granted, but the play was rejected, and seemingly produced by him independently. {51} In August of that year, according to a letter to the society which he asked to have copied in the minutes, he humbled his pride in consideration of the high and holy cause, and requested that his wife and he be allowed to return as members of the society, he as instructor. His offer was accepted. {52} But the performances which followed resulted in deficits, and he did not perform his duties to the satisfaction of the society. Matters hung on until December 26, when his general casualness and recent departure for New York led to his ouster. {53} There were troubles also with the musical director, {54} and, according to Arctander's letter, that season was marked by efforts of both Danish and Norwegian groups to hinder the society and prevent its success.

There is no need to recount the shifting personnel of the society or, even if it were possible, to give extensive biographical accounts of those whom the minutes and programs in the Protocol disclose as its leaders. At least thirty-three men and nineteen women participated in its plays. {55} The men who appeared more than fifteen times were E. S. Howland, E. Moyel, Theodor Müller, Carlos Ross, Henrik Sporeland, C. B. Stange, and Frank Wærness. The women who played most frequently were Miss Fanske (later Mrs. Bendecke), Miss Tilla Gjertsen, Mrs. Jensen, Miss Thea Offerson (later Mrs. Arctander), Miss Jensine Ross, Mrs. Ovidia Sporeland, {56} Miss Elise Struck, and Mrs. Wærness. E. S. Howland was the first president, F. Wærness the first secretary, and E. Moyel the first regisseur. In April, 1869, E. Moyel was mentioned as president. In June, 1870, Carlos Ross was elected president, and in March, 1871, re-elected. Who the other officers were is less clear. The accounts and minutes were variously signed by committees and officers. From October 23 to December 28, 1870, A. M. Askevold was secretary. J. L. Sahl was elected secretary in March, 1871, but resigned April 3, and from then to the end Hans P. Hansen served as secretary. There is no explicit information about the artistic instructors of the society. Anker Midling served as director in the fall of 1869, {57} and Eduard Larsen directed at least one performance, that of August 7, 1870. {58} He was succeeded by Arctander. Arctander, in the letter discussed earlier, protested against the society's reliance on Danish instructors, but the allusion is not clear.

Most of the persons active in the society stand somewhat apart from the more numerous farmer immigrants. They seem on the whole to represent the official and professional classes as distinguished from the bonder and husmænd. Some of them carried on their professional careers successfully in this country. Thus E. Moyel was an engineer. {59} J. W. Arctander's chief career was in the law, but he was active in the newspaper field here as he had been in Norway. On his arrival in Chicago in 1869 he became affiliated with the publication Fremad. In his later years, in Minneapolis and elsewhere, he maintained similar interests, and, among other things, he translated Ibsen's Bygmester Solness. {60} Eduard Larsen may have been the former editor of Bergens tidende; before 1870 he was an associate editor of Skandinaven and then was associated with Arctander in a newspaper enterprise at Rochester, Minnesota. {61} Others succeeded in business.

Anker Midling, coming to Chicago by way of Kansas City after his immigration in 1868, held a bank position, {62} and was later in the First National Bank of Chicago. {63} He was one of the most colorful figures in the group. A Bergen man, he had been one of the founders of a boys' theater there, and had in 1861 made his debut in the Norwegian theater of Christiania, under Ibsen, and had served as his secretary. {64} C .B. Stange, who was well educated privately in Norway, held his first bank position in 1872, four years after his arrival in America. He later was head of the foreign exchange department of the First National Bank, and was long prominent in the Norwegian group in Chicago interested in music and literature. {65} Carlos Ross, who was educated in Bergen, became the head of the adjusting department of Wheeler and Wilson, and was something of an inventor as well. {66} Sporeland, another Bergen man, was a candy manufacturer who later prospered in Wisconsin. There were some, however, who had difficulty in adjusting themselves and finding appropriate employment in a new country. They worked for pittances, clinging to their dress suits and silk hats as symbols of their social standing. {67} To some extent, at least, the dramatic society was a young people's enterprise; in 1868 Larsen was 28, Midling was 23, and Arctander and Stange were 19. {68}

The Bergen background of a number of the group is significant, not only because Bergen was a cultured and comparatively cosmopolitan city, but because there the first national theater of Norway had existed from 1850-63. To a considerable extent the Chicago Norske Dramatiske Forening represented the spirit of the Bergen theater. Ole Bull was responsible for the establishment and early success of the Bergen theater. Of his general interest in the Chicago association only one instance is recorded--the visit to Ross. {69} The Oleana fiasco had not lessened the glamour of his appeal; he was an idolized figure among the Norwegians in Chicago in those years, on his not infrequent appearances there. {70}

It does not minimize the part played by Ole Bull in founding the Bergen theater to recognize that the institution was the result of a general movement in Norway and Bergen to shake off the domination of Danish plays and actors. This was in turn a part of the national movement which, steadily growing after the impetus of the 1814 constitution at the time of the separation from Denmark and the union with Sweden, had been finding strong political and literary expression since the 1840's. The theater that opened in 1850 was also the continuation of a long Bergen tradition. From 1794 to 1824 a private dramatic club there had given 486 performances. It lapsed in 1828, and the Danish theater was established in Bergen as it had been in the capital; but the tradition had been kept alive, and the Bergen people retained their aptitude for theatricals. The national theater in Bergen accomplished much, one result being the establishment of the Norwegian language on the stage at a time when only the softer Danish tongue was considered suitable. Of several reasons why this theater died a somewhat inglorious death, one has importance in relation to the Chicago society. The limited amount of strictly Norwegian drama was a handicap to a theater of such avowedly national aims. Though Ibsen and Bjørnson were among its directors and contributed to it some of their early works, its repertory was still mainly Danish and French. What Norwegian drama there was largely reflected the romantic interest of the 1840's in peasant life and saga literature, and had not yet found other native subjects. {71}

The national Norwegian spirit was strong in the Chicago group also. It was un-Norwegian and unworthy of the aims of the society, said Arctander, in the protest already noted, to depend upon Danish directors. {72} There is further evidence of this spirit in the Seventeenth of May programs, the national songs that appeared on the programs for audience singing, and the folk dances that were occasionally part of the entertainment. The repertory of this Norwegian group would be surprising apart from the record of the Bergen theater. The Chicago players also relied largely on Danish and continental plays, though the proportion of Norwegian plays could naturally be larger in their forty-six plays than in the 340 given in Bergen. {73} At Bergen about one-half the plays were of French origin, and these were seen mainly in Danish adaptations. Almost one-fourth of the Bergen plays were Danish, and less than one-eighth, Norwegian. The drama of Germany and England was scantily represented. {74} At Chicago, ten of the forty-six plays were Norwegian, twenty, Danish. The fifteen plays of non-Scandinavian origin were chiefly French comedies in Danish adaptation. One play has not been identified.

The typical nature of the Chicago society's repertory is seen also in comparison with the Bergen records for length and kind of play. In Bergen there were 578 performances, of which a little fewer than one-half were one-act plays; about one-fifth, three-act; not quite one-sixth, five-act and two-act; and about one-thirteenth, four-act. {75} Of the eighty-three recorded performances by the Chicago society, almost two-thirds were one-act plays; approximately one-eighth, three-act; one-tenth, five-act; only three, four-act; and one, two-act. {76} The difficulties of amateur production may account for the higher proportion of one-act pieces in Chicago. Frequently two or three one-act pieces were performed on the same evening. Of the complete list of plays performed by the Chicago Dramatiske Forening, thirty-five were comedies, many of them with music; they were presented sixty-six times. {77} Twenty-seven of the comedies, all one-act, seen in forty-eight performances, can be classed as vaudevilles. {78} Ten serious plays were given fifteen times. Of these, two plays and three performances were tragedies. In comparison with the Bergen repertory, the Chicago society here makes a favorable showing. A little more than one-fifth of the plays given in Bergen were of a serious type. {79} The relatively few plays given by Thrane's earlier players show similar correspondence to the Bergen repertory in source and type, as the preceding analysis and the further listing of their repertory show.

A comprehensive view of Scandinavian dramatic literature is given in the repertory of the Norske Dramatiske Forening. {80} Two of the comedies were from the pen of the master dramatist of the period when Danish and Norwegian literature were one, the eighteenth-century Ludvig Holberg. In his rollicking Christopher Sly story of the Danish peasant, Jeppe paa bjerget, are illustrated at their best his powers of satire and genre picture, his skillful following of the traditions of Latin comedy and Moliére. Adam Oehlenschlseger, the great poetic spirit of the romantic period in Denmark, celebrated Norse history in an influential series of historical dramas, of which the Norske Dramatiske Forening played four. The French vaudeville of the first half of the nineteenth century was triumphantly transplanted to Denmark by Johan Ludvig Heiberg, who regarded it as a forerunner of national comedy, {81} and it was as successfully played by his actress wife. One play by each is found in the Chicago society's repertory. Their characteristically Danish contemporary, Christian Hostrup, was a favorite with the society. Though it did not play his most famous pictures of student life, three of his sangspils (he rejected the French term, vaudeville) {82} in a total of nine performances gave Chicago audiences glimpses of rollicking Danish soldiers and artists. The prolific adapter, journalist, versifier, and theater director, Erik Bøgh, carried on the French tradition in Denmark in the fifties, with many bright and successful, if undistinguished, pieces. Four of his original plays were given by the Chicago society, one, Huldrebakken, a little Norwegian romantic affair. {83} A comedy by another industrious Danish adapter and man of the theater, Thomas Overskou, was in the Chicago repertory, as was a Danish vaudeville piece of 1849 by Henriette Nielsen. One comedy was the work of the Danish poet and dramatist, H. P. Hølst. The selection of Carsten Hauch's Søstrene i Kinnekulen, also from 1849, is easily understood, for its legendary tale of the mountain bewitched girl is Norwegian rather than Danish in tone. {84}

Danish playwrights were responsible also for most of the adaptations given in Chicago. {85} Of the men named, Bøgh, Heiberg, Hølst, and Overskou were represented as adapters as well, Overskou by three, Bøgh by as many as seven plays. Hans Christian Andersen, who made a persistent bid for dramatic fame, adapted one of the plays given. Another adapter from Denmark was the actor, F. L. Høedt. The plays in this group are of little special significance, being chiefly one-act vaudevilles. Two were of German origin, and there were intermediate German versions for some of the French pieces that make up most of the group. It is noteworthy that only one play from the English was produced, Holcroft's The Road to Ruin. When it was advertised for his benefit, Henrik Sporeland praised its strong characterization and popularity in America and abroad. {86}

In these lists of dramatists and adapters, hardly a Danish playwright of importance is missing. Their drama was cosmopolitan and varied; in it were exemplified the romantic spirit, particularly in its antiquarian aspect, the urbanity and wit of French comedy, and its classic inheritance, and the formula comedy typified by Scribe, as well as national Danish characteristics.

The Norwegian plays in the Chicago society's repertory are more exclusively and consciously national. {87} Politics and literature in Norway were closely interrelated from 1830 on, with the national poet, Henrik Wergeland, a moving power from 1830 to 1845 in the fight for political independence. Subsequent exploitation in the drama, as in other literature, of the previously noted native themes, the peasant life and the saga background, accompanied the growing political importance of the peasant and of a national spirit ultimately victorious.

Earliest of the Norwegian writers represented was H. A. Bjerregaard, whose Fjeldeventyret was a significant pioneer work in the national drama of Norway. A musical picture of country life, its vivid local Color, witty dialogue, and the introduction of the then comparatively unknown folk music gave it immediate popularity. Henrik Jæger in his literary history of 1896 says that it was the only Norwegian play to remain in the Christiania repertory for more than one generation, and to be played outside Norway in the other Scandinavian capitals. {88} Another Norwegian dramatic work of pioneer importance was Kong Sverres ungdom, the verse tragedy with which the poet and dramatist Andreas Munch in 1837 won the prize for the best Norwegian piece with which to open the Christiania theater. It was a not entirely successful blending of history with the sentimental romance invented for its hero. Munch drew upon saga literature for what is reputedly his best play, En aften paa Giske (1855), in which a Norwegian nobleman's sworn hospitality to a young Icelander clashes with his loyalty to King Olaf. It is accounted the best Norwegian representative of the Oehlenschlæger type before the plays of Ibsen and Bjørnson. {89} As a pioneer piece, C. M. Monson's Gudbrandsdølerne ranks with Kong Sverres ungdom and Fjeldeventyret, though lower in literary achievement. Patriotism of the Seventeenth of May type and theatrical pageantry made effective and popular this tale of the famed defeat of Scotch mercenaries sent by the Swedes against Norway. {90}

Chicago audiences enjoyed, through the Norske Dramatiske Forening, two lighter works of persistent popularity which derived from the intense interest in folk life that accompanied the growing political power of the bønder and reflected also the growing opposition to an emigration which was becoming a national problem. One was written by the national idol, Henrik Wergeland, on his deathbed in 1845. In his Fjeldstuen the "devastating epidemic" of immigration was depicted both pathetically and satirically. {91} He regarded this musical play picturing peasant life as a reaction against the aristocratic and, from his point of view, petty vaudevilles of Heiberg. {92} C. P. Riis's Til sæters (1850) amusingly combined various appealing elements: the life of the students, who were an important force in the national movement; the emigration problem, inasmuch as the farcical story centers in the dissuasion of a peasant bent on leaving for America; and folk tunes, of which there is a splendid medley. Of the Norwegian pieces, it was the one most frequently played by this group, and Thrane's actors also performed it. Jaeger calls it the one most frequently played in Norway. {93} One wonders what emotions these plays aroused in the Chicago "newcomers." In Ivar Aasen's Ervingen, played by the Thrane group, is found another light play of distinctly Norwegian flavor. It tells in delightful song and his characteristic maal a simple story in which the rightful heir of a country place gains ownership peaceably through love for the daughter of the man who tried to outwit him. {94}

Two of Bjørnson's historic dramas, Mellem slagene and Kong Sverre, were among the more pretentious efforts of the Norske Dramatiske Forening. Bjørnson's role in the fight for Norwegian political independence and the interest he evinced in the national drama as critic, director, and author are well known, and these plays are early reflections of both enthusiasms. {95} The roster of Norwegian plays is concluded with two little-discussed plays, Høkker halle, a folk comedy by M. Petersen, and Petter og Inger, a light comedy by Hans Schulze. Except for 'the absence of early Ibsen historical plays, the list illustrates the best efforts of a dramatic literature that was in its early stages of development.

The record of repetitions is some indication of popularity. Twenty-one of the society's plays were given more than once, sometimes, of course, because it was cheaper and easier to repeat a play already prepared. {96} Twelve were vaudevilles, Danish or Danish-French, in a total of thirty-seven performances. The seven Norwegian plays seen in nineteen performances dealt mainly with historical and folk subjects. There was a total of five performances for two longer musical plays. {97} An unreliable measure of popularity is found in the limited financial accounts in the Protocol, especially when such factors as relative attractiveness of casts and time of performance are considered. Still, some of the twelve productions definitely recorded as profitable are worth noting. Til secrets was three times profitable, in combination with other pieces, once on the Fourth of July. {98} Oehlenschlæger's Axel og Valborg succeeded financially in successive Christmas and New Year's performances; his Hakon Jarl once. {99} Munch's Kong Sverres ungdom made money once, and was once played without loss. {100} Several of the vaudevilles brought in small profits, and expenses were made, in combination programs with vaudevilles, with two Holberg comedies {101} and Wergeland's Fjeldstuen. {102}

A further indication of the nature of the Chicago society's enterprise is seen in their dramatic library of some 150 items, which is listed in the Protocol. {103} All but two of the plays have been to some degree identified. An examination of the list, apart from those which were presented, bears out our general impression of Scandinavian dramatic repertory at the time. About one-third are from the French, mainly of the vaudeville type, with Scribe the most frequent source. The adapters as a rule are Danish. The popular Danish comedy writers, Hostrup, the Heibergs, and Bøgh, are responsible for more than one-third of the plays, Bøgh alone having eighteen, both original and adapted. There is an additional play by Oehlensehlæger and one more by Holberg. Other Danes, H. C. Andersen, W. Bloch, N. Bøgh, H. Hertz, H. P. Hølst, U. P. Overbye, P. V. Jacobsen, T. Overskou, and C. M. Wengel, provide fourteen plays. {104} Five works come from the German and two from the English drama. And there are nine additional Norwegian historical dramas.

The entire record of the Norske Dramatiske Forening bespeaks an amateur venture which could honestly point to its motto, Ej blot til lyst, as a measure of its achievement. In the necessity which these people and the dramatic group which preceded them felt for identifying themselves with their native culture while adapting themselves to a new life is illustrated a typical immigrant phenomenon. The peculiar interest of the society lies in the type of culture, the literary and artistic inheritance which they brought to the United States and to American theatrical tradition. The Norske Dramatiske Forening is not to be regarded only as a pioneer group, of unequal and doubtful artistic achievement, amusing in its squabbles, and pleasant in its sociability. There is intrinsic importance in what they did, and in the dramatic activity of those who later, again with Carlos Ross as a leader, carried on their aims and spirit.


The forty-six plays performed by the Norske Dramatiske Forening and the thirty-two performed by the Thrane group are listed in this appendix, Danish plays in Section A, adaptations from non-Scandinavian sources in Section B, and Norwegian plays in Section C. Four plays of unknown authorship are unclassified: Et hyggeligt besøg (A Cozy Visit), played by the Norske Dramatiske Forening; En amerikansk tjenestepige (An American Servant Girl), comedy, one act; Karn og Marn, eller de to vaskekjærringer (Karn and Marn, or the Two Washerwomen), comedy, one act; and Scener i ægteskabslivet (Matrimonial Scenes), played by the Thrane group. Karn og Marn may have been related to Christiania vaskerkoner, a ballet, for which a French title is also given, which was played in Christiania in 1801. See H. J. Huitfeldt, Christiania theaterhistorie, 229, 232 (Copenhagen, 1876).

Thrane's own plays are listed in Section C. Within each section, the plays are listed alphabetically according to author. Asterisks (*) indicate plays performed by the Thrane players as well as by the Norske Dramatiske Forening. Daggers ( ) indicate plays presented by the Thrane group only.

The principal sources used for the identification and discussion of plays are: T. Blanc, Norges første nationale scene; F. Bull and F. Paasche, Norsk litteraturhistorie (Oslo, 1932); E. Collin, ed., Overskous haandbog for yndere og dyrkere af dansk dramatisk litteratur og kunst (Copenhagen, 1879); T. H. Erslew, ed., Forfatter-lexicon for kongeriget Danmark -- 1814 til 1840 (Copenhagen, 1843-68); J. B. Halvorsen, ed., Norsk forfatter-lexicon, 1814-1840 (Christiania, 1885-1908); P. Hansen, lllustrert dansk litteraturhistorie (Copenhagen, 1902); H. J. Huitfeldt, Christiania theaterhistorie; H. Jæger, lllustrert norsk litteraturhistorie; V. Ostergaard, Illustrert dansk literaturhistorie: danske digtere i der 19de aarhundrede (Copenhagen, 1907); C. S. Petersen and V. Andersen, lllustrert dansk litteraturhistorie; L. Swendsen, De københavnske privatteatres repertoire (1847-1906).


Bøgh, Erik: Betragtningen over naturen (Observation on Nature), vaudeville monologue  ; En caprice (A Caprice), dramatic divertissement, one act, with song and dance*; Huldrebakken (The Huldre Hill), vaudeville, one act; En mand som hat vaæt i byen (A Man Who Has Been to Town), partly from J. Jolin, Studentens majnatt, vaudeville monologue ; Narret april (April Fool), vaudeville, one act; Den skinsyge ægtemand (The Jealous Husband), sangspil, one act ; To naboer (Two Neighbors), vaudeville bagatelle.

Davidsen, J.: Frieri per commissionær (Courtship by Proxy), comedy, one act. 

Etlar, Carit (J. C. C. Brosbøll): 1 dynekilen, later played as Tordenskjold i dynekilen, comedy with song, three acts. Swendsen, De københavnske privat-teatres repertoire, 78; or H. Hertz, Tordenskjold i dynekilen, from J. P. Lyser, musical play, three acts. Huitfeldt, Christiania theaterhistorie, 216, et al.

Hauch, Carsten: Søstrene paa Kinnekulen (The Sisters on Kinnekulen), dramatic fairy tale, three acts.

Heiberg, Johan Ludvig: Emilies hjertebanken (Emilie's Heartthrob), vaudeville monologue, one act ; Nei (No), sangspil, one act; Recensenten og dyret (The Critic and the Beast), vaudeville, one act. 

Heiberg, Johanne Louise: En søndag paa Amager (A Sunday at Amager), vaudeville, one act.

Holberg, Ludvig: Jacob yon Tyboe, eller den stortalende soldat (Jacob von Tyboe, or the Braggart Soldier), comedy, five acts ; Jeppe paa bjerget (Jeppe of the Mountain), comedy, five acts*; Julestuen (The Christmas Parlor), comedy, one act.

Hølst, H. P.: De hat en datter (You Have a Daughter), comedy, one act.

Hostrup, J. Christian: Den gamle elsker (The Old Lover), sangspil, one act; Intrigerne (The Intrigues), sangspil, one act; Soldaterløier (Soldiers' Pranks), sangspil, one act.*

Nielsen, Henriette: Slaegtningerne (The Relatives), sangspil, one act.*

Oehlenschlæger, Adam: Axel og Valborg (Axel and Valborg), tragedy, three acts; Dronning Margareta (Queen Margareta), tragedy, five acts; Hakon Jarl (Hakon the Earl), tragedy, five acts (acts four and five were played); Lander fundet og forsvundet, eller de to armringe (The Country Found or Lost, or the Two Bracelets), heroic drama, two acts; Tordenskjold, tragedy, five acts (act five was played). 

Overskou, Thomas: Misforstaaelse paa misforstaaelse (Misunderstanding on Misunderstanding), comedy, one act.


Andersen, Hans Christian: En nat i Roeskilde (A Night in Roeskilde), from L. Lefevre and L. Varin, Une chambre a deux lits, vaudeville, one act*

Bøgh, Erik: Alle mulige roller (All Possible Roles) from Radet, Frosine, ou la derniere venue, vaudeville, one act; En glædelig fastelavn (A Happy Holiday), from M. Michel and A. Maurin, Mon ami Pierrot, comedy, one act ; Den graa paletot (The Gray Coat), in part from Dr. Tøpfer, Die weisse Pikesche, vandeville, one act; Tre for en (Three for One), from G. Kettel, Drei Welber und doch Keine, from C. V. Varin and L. Desverger, Le oul fatal, on le celibataire sans le savoir, vaudeville, one act*; Et uhyre, eller den hvite Othello (A Monster, or the White Othello), from E. Brisebarre and M. Michel, Un tigre du Bengal, farce, one act*; Valbygaasen (The Valby Goose), from J.-F.-A. Bayard and G. Lemoine, La niaise de Saint-Flour, vaudeville, one act; Ægtemandens representant (The Husband's Representative), from the Italian, vaudeville, one act. 

Borgaard, C.: Han gaar paa commers (Out for a Good Time), from J. Nestroy, Einen Juz will er sich machen, from French, 1l fait ses farces, musical farce, five acts.

Dorph, N. V.: Valeur et compagnie (Valeur and Company), from J.-F.-A. Bayard and Devorme (J. de Wailly), Moiroud et compagnie, comedy, one act.

Heiberg, Johan Ludvig: Den første kjærlighed (First Love), from E. Scribe, Les premieres amours, comedy, one act ; Syv militære piger (Seven Military Girls), from L. Angely, Sieben Mädchen in Uniform, from Franck, Armand, and Théaulon, Les jolis soldats, ou la forteresse real defendne, vaudeville, one act.

Høedt, F. L.: En kone som springer ud af vinduet (A Woman Who Jumps Out of the Window), from E. Scribe and G. Lemoine, Une femme qui se jette par la fenétre, comedy, one act.

Hølst, H. P.: Rataplan, eller den lille tambour (Rataplan, or the Little Drummer), from C. A. Scwrin and A. Vizentini, vaudeville, one act.

Molbech, C.: Christens hjemkomst (Christen's Homecoming), from E. Scribe and H. Dupin, Christen et Christine, comedy, one act. 

Overskou, Thomas: Herren set dine veie (The Lord Sees Your Ways), from A. Dennery and G. Lemoine, La gràce de Dieu, ou la neuvelle fanchon, comedy with song, five acts; Kunstnerliv, eller den ene arbeidet, den anden lønnen (Artists' Life, or One the Work, the Other the Reward), from E. Scribe, H. Dupin, and Varner, La mansarde des artistes, comedy, one act; Veien til ødelveggelse (The Road to Ruin), from Thomas Holcroft, The Road to Ruin, comedy, five acts.

Thrane, Marcus: Naar saltkarret væltes (When the Saltcellar Is Tipped), from C. A. Gørner, Das Salz der Ehe, comedy, one act.* See note 8.

En maa giftes (One Must Marry), from A. Wilhelmi (A. V. Zechmeister), Einer muss heiraten, comedy, one act. 


Aasen, Ivar: Ervingen (The Heir), national sangspil, two acts. 

Bjerregaard, H. A.: Fjeldeventyret (A Mountain Tale), sangspil, four acts.

Bjørnson, Bjørnstjerne: Kong Sverre (King Sverre), historical drama, three acts; Mellem slagene (Between the Battles), historical drama, one act.

Monson, C. M.: Gudbrandsdølerne (The Peasants of Gudbrandsdøl), national drama, four acts.

Munch, Andreas: En aften paa Giske (An Evening at Giske), national drama, one act; Kong Sverres ungdom (The Youth of King Sverre), drama, three acts.

Møller, M.: Gjvest Baardsen, national sangspil, two acts.  Møller has not been identified. Thrane's full name was Marcus Møller Thrane, and he may possibly have been the author.

Petersen, M.: Høkker halle, foil comedy with song.

Riis, C. P.: Til sæters (To the Chalet), dramatic idyll, one act. *

Schulze, Hans: Petter og Inger, comedy, one act.

Thrane, Marcus: Ægteparrets forsoning (The Married Couple's Reconciliation), sangspil, one act ; Doktor mod doktor (Doctor against Doctor), vaudeville, two acts  ; Skydsskifet i Hallingdal (Where One Changes Horses in Hallingdal), national sangspil, two acts ; Syttende mai (The Seventeenth of May), sangspil, two acts ; Et uskikkelig pigebarn (A Naughty Little Girl), vaudeville, one act.  See note 9.

Wergeland, Henrik: Fjeldstien (The Mountain Cottage), national drama with song, three acts.


<1> A slowly rising immigration from Norway had begun in 1825, and from the forties on there had been a rapid increase in the number of immigrants. The great tide came in 1880-90, but from 1865 to 1879, 74,403 Norwegian immigrants came to the United States. Theodore C. Blegen, Norwegian Migration to America, 1825-1860, 19 (Northfield, Minnesota, 1931).

<2> Blegen, Norwegian Migration, 323-329; Jacob Friis, Marcus Thrane (Christiania, 1917); Waldemar Westergaard, "Marcus Thrane in America: Some Unpublished Letters from 1880-1884," in Norwegian-American Studies and Records, 9:67-76 (Northfield, Minnesota, 1986); Johannes B. Wist, "Pressen efter borgerkrigen," in Norsk-amerikanernes festskrift, 91-98 (Decorah, Iowa, 1914).

<3> "Teaterminde fra Chicago," in Scandia, December 17, 1927. This paper and a copy of a valuable number of Skandinaven for 1908 were made available through the kindness of Mr. Christian Olson of Chicago.

<4> Marcus Thrane's granddaughter, Mrs. Josephine Lewer, has kindly written and spoken of the family recollections to one of the authors of this article. A number of papers in her possession bear no relation to Thrane's dramatic activities. Other family papers in Chicago have not yet been made available for examination.

<5> Skandinaven, earliest of the long-lived Norwegian newspapers in America, appeared in Chicago May 2, 1866. Thrane had sold to its founders his Den norske amerikaner. The paper soon became a force in Norwegian immigrant life and signalized the importance of this group in Chicago; Wist, Norsk-amerikanernes festskrift, 45 ff., 91-93. Scattered issues of Skandinaven for 1869 and 1870 have been studied by Henriette Naeseth. For material from Skandinaven from its first issue through July 4, 1872, the authors are greatly indebted to Professor Karl Jacobsen, who examined the files at Koren Library, Luther College, Decorah, Iowa. Missing issues for the period are: April 28 and June 16, 1869; October 26, 1870.

<6> Notices in Skandinaven show the following dates of performance: October 15, November 6, 21, December 26, 1866; January 14, 28, February 11, March 4, April 8, 23, May 17, July 4, 22, August l2, September 28, October 22, November 4, 19, December 26, 1867; January 9, February 25, 1868.

<7> Several of the plays so designated come from the earlier period when the literatures of Norway and Denmark were not thought of as separate.

<8> One of the plays from the German, Naar saltkarret væltes, when played later by the Norske Dramatiske Forening, was listed as translated by Thrane; Protocol, Norske Dramatiske Forening, 32. L. Swendsen, in his De københavnske privatteatres repertoire (1847-1906), 124 (Copenhagen, 1907), gives W. E. Brun as the adapter. For information about the Protocol, see post, p. 50.

<9> Et uskikkelig pigebarn may have been related to En pokker tøs, a farce with music adapted by E. Bøgh and A. Abrahams from E. Deligny, La fille terrible, or A. L. C. de Coninck's version of the same play, Et forskrækkeligt pigebarn; Swendsen, De københavnske privatteatres repertoire, 45, 139. A copy of En pokker tøs was in the library of the Norske Dramatiske Forening.

<10> Skandinaven, February 14, 1867.

<11> The bønder were "a rural aristocracy," who through centuries had been the very heart of Norwegian national culture and were now establishing themselves as a strong political force. The term "peasant" is a misleading translation. From this class came many political leaders, artists, and professional men, in Norway and America. The husmænd or cotters were renters, not, like the bønder, landowners, and were comparatively oppressed. Both classes felt the pressure of economic conditions in Norway and emigrated in large numbers. Blegen, Norwegian Migration, 5-8.

<12> Skandinaven, May 23, 1867.

<13> Skandinaven, February 7, May 23, June 27, July 18, 1867.

<14> Skandinaven, May 9, October 10, 1867; April 2, 1868. A loose program in the Protocol for an October 22 performance does not give the year, but the plays are the same as for the Thrane performance of October 22, 1867; and besides the above-named actors, A. Thrane and Mrs. A. Thrane are mentioned. Fourteen of the thirty-two plays given by the Thrane troupe were in the library of the Norske Dramatiske Forening, and there were nine plays that were given by both groups.

<15> The Protocol was brought to our attention by Mr. Christian Olson of Chicago. His general assistance has been invaluable, and we are deeply indebted to him for the use of the Protocol, and to St. Olaf College, from whom he borrowed it.

<16> The meeting was at the home of E. Moyel. [Christian Olson and Henrik Ibsen], "Gamle minder," in Skandinaven, December 13, 1903.

<17> This was the motto that marked the entrance of the Danish National Theater in Copenhagen. Carl S. Petersen and Vilhelm Andersen, lllustrert dansk litteratur-historie, 3: 432 (Copenhagen, 1924).

<18> Protocol, 4, 5.

<19> The expense account for the first performance is typical, though there were greater expenditures: theater, $26.50; food, $7.80; music, $12.00; arrangement of music, $8.00; ticket seller, $4.00; ticket sale, $2.00; bills, $2.00; costumes, 50 cents; tickets, $3.00; Skandinaven, $2.00; wig rental, $1.50; dressing gown, $3.35; role copying, $7.00; beer, 30 cents; dress, 5 cents; additional food, 30 cents. Later items of interest are: the police, $3.00; a silk dress, $2.00; 12 pairs of stockings, $1.00. Rent for the theaters ranged from $26.50 to $50.00 a performance.

<20> Skandinaven, April 2 and 30, May 21, 1868; Protocol, 4, 5. Both Skandinaven of May 21 and the Protocol recorded a good house.

<21> "May the society prosper!
"Klink with each other! Skaal upon it!"

<22> Protocol, 4, 5.

<23> Skandinaven, April 2, 30, May 21, 1868.

<24> Protocol, 7-16; on page 15, it is stated that the November 30 profits were divided. The December 26 account, on page 16, gives a profit of $304.40, of which $9.00 was left in the treasury. Presumably the same principle was followed. Cf. p. 14 and 15 for a discussion of the constitution.

<25> The spring of 1868 is considered a separate season; and the regular fall-spring division is followed in this account. The ten performances for 1870-71 included a light musical entertainment planned for Christmas but not further recorded. Minutes for December l, 1870, Protocol, 49.

<26> Only an October 9 performance of three plays is clear from the Protocol, 35, but Skandinaven of October 6, 1869, gives the programs for both October 8 and 9. Both performances are recorded in Wisconsin Botschafter, October 8, 15, 1869; and Olson and Ibsen, in Skandinaven for December 13,1903, mention two performances.

<27> Protocol, 35. See also Wisconsin Botschafter, October 15, 1869.

<28> This was in the summer of 1869; Protocol, 25, 26.

<29> The twenty-first performance, recorded in the Protocol, 25, 26, as the same as the twentieth performance on July 4. This reference to the plays given precludes identification with a performance advertised in Skandinaven of July 21, 1869, for July 26 at the North Side Turner Hall, which included List og fiegma, song piece in one act by Louis Angely, in Norwegian; Godmorgen, Hr. Fischer, in German; and Den usledne diamant, comedy in one act, in English. There is no indication that this interesting entertainment was connected with the Norske Dramatiske Forening.

<30> Protocol, 38.

<31> Pages 39 and 40 of the Protocol, with the records of these performances, are missing.

<32> The resignation of the ticket seller, who had been suspected of irregularity, was noted in the minutes of August 25. Protocol, 28, 29.

<33> Protocol, 37.

<34> The minutes for September 29, 1869, record the only previous loan, of $100, from a Mr. Syvertson, on security of the members. This probably had to do with the Madison trip, though the arrangement was for those who went to pay their own expenses and divide a possible surplus. Protocol, 32.

<35> At the December 28, 1870, meeting, Messrs. Sahl, Fougner, Larsen, Lindblom, and Junge were present to discuss such an arrangement, without definite results. But Sahl and Fougner soon figured as members. Protocol, 49, 50, 60 ff.

<36> Protocol, 49.

<37> Protocol, 60-62, 68.

<38> Protocol, 65-69.

<39> Protocol, 53-56.

<40> At the meeting of November 9, 1869, the constitution (of which no copy survives) had been changed to provide for a committee to assist the instructor in assigning roles. Such a committee was elected then and again on January 19, 1871. Protocol, 36, 53.

<41> The minutes frequently noted the acceptance and resignation of women members. Payment of the women is noted in the minutes from time to time. Protocol, 4, 5, 25, et al.

<42> Profits less than $100 also seem to have been divided, as $79.80 on January 1869. Protocol, 17.

<43> On November 28, 1870, Mr. Müller explained to the satisfaction of the society his infraction of this rule. Protocol, 49,

<44> The constitution did not provide for the payment of dues, but on September 11, 1869, it had been decided that an initial fee of two dollars was to be followed by monthly payments of one dollar; on March 24, 1871, the fees were reduced to one dollar and twenty-five cents respectively. Protocol, 30, 59.

<45> Protocol, 70; Skandinaven, December 15, 1903.

<46> Protocol, 76, 77.

<47> This information was obtained in an interview with Mr. Christian Olson.

<48> Skandinaven, May 22, 1872.

<49> Scandia for December 17, 1927, says Ross lost interest in the society, his marriage giving him more serious things to think of.

<50> Protocol, 42 ff., 49, 50.

<51> Protocol, 57. An advertisement in Skandinaven for April 19, 1871, announces as one of the four plays to be produced at Turner Hall on April 23, J. W. Arctander's Spektakel i huset (Commotion in the House), a one-act piece seemingly dealing with amateur theatricals. His wife appeared in at least one of the plays.

<52> Protocol, 71.

<53>Protocol, 71ff.

<54> The musical director was John S. Lindtner, who came from Norway in October, 1870, and organized the Nordmændernes Sangforening, for which he was instructor. Carl Hansen, "Der norske foreningsliv i Amerika," in Norsk-amerikanernes festskrift, 270. Lindtner resigned, but seemed unwilling to give up what the society considered its property. Protocol, 75.

<55> As the programs rarely include initials or given names, it is not possible to be sure how many Andersons, Petersons, and so forth, appeared.

<56> A popular soubrette, according to Mr. Christian Olson.

<57> In telling of an attack on Midling, as he left German Hall, by a supposed saloonkeeper and two assisting Irishmen, Skandinaven of September 8, 1869, speaks of him as the theater director. He first appeared with the society November 1868. Protocol, 15. Wist, Norsk-amerikanernes festskrift, 91, speaks of Midling as a founder of the short-lived dramatic society, a seeming inaccuracy.

<58> Protocol, 41.

<59> Skandinaven, December 13, 1903.

<60> Wist, Norsk-amerikanernes festskrift, 61, 62, 81.

<61> Wist spells the name Edvard Larsen. Wist, Norsk-amerikanernes festskrift, 57-59, 61.

<62> Wist, Norsk-amerikanernes festskrift, 91.

<63> Information obtained from Mr. Christian Olson.

<64> Wist, Norsk-amerikanernes festskrift, 91. His sister was an actress in the Bergen theater, and a sister-in-law of Ole Bull.

<65> A. E. Strand, ed., A History of the Norwegians of Illinois, 488 (Chicago, 1905).

<66> Skandinaven, December 13, 1908; interview with Mr. Christian Olson.

<67> Information obtained from Mr. Christian Olson.

<68> Wist, Norsk-amerikanernes festskrift, 61, 62, 91; Strand, History of the Norwegians of Illinois, 488.

<69> Information obtained from Mr. Christian Olson.

<70> See, for example, Skandinaven, November, 1868; March, 1870.

<71> Tharald H. Blanc, Norges første nationale scene, Bergen, 1850-1863, 1 ff., 335-341 (Christiania, 1884); Henrik Jæger, Illustrert norsk literaturhistorie, 2: 492-499 (Christiania, 1896). Ole Bull had left the theater and left Norway in 1851; he was not to return until 1857, when he severed a connection somewhat unfortunate in its developments. For two years the theater continued under Bjørnson as instructor, and then until 1868, with lessening prosperity. Blanc, Norges første nationale scene, 240-257; Blegen, Norwegian Migration, 289.

<72> Protocol, 71.

<73> The figure forty-six includes, besides the Protocol list, two plays from 1872 as named by Christian Olson but not recorded in the Protocol, Bjørnson's Mellem slagene and Monson's Gudbrandsdølerne, and the Holcroft Road to Ruin, advertised April 9, 1870, in Skandinaven. The plays are listed in full when discussed in national groups.

<74> All but ten of the plays given by the Norske Dramatiske Forening were in the Bergen repertory, which is listed in Blanc, Norges første nationale scene, 345-381. One of the ten is of later date. Three are nationalistic Norwegian plays that one is surprised not to find in the Bergen repertory. Sixteen of the thirty-two plays of the Thrane group arc in the Bergen repertory.

<75> Figured from the summaries for each season in Blanc, Norges første nationale scene, 27, 61 ff.

<76> Eighty-three is the total number of plays performed, including repetitions. Ordinarily "performance" has been used to designate an evening's entertainment, not an individual play. The figure eighty-three does not include the unidentified production between March 26 and August 7, 1870, which was performance 31 or 32, and the probable Christmas entertainment of 1870.

<77> Plays described in the following terms are considered comedies: dramatisk eventyr, dramatiak idyll, lystspil, sangspil, vaudeville.

<78> The unidentified play, Et hyggeligt besøg, probably a comedy, is omitted in this summary.

<79> The generalization is based on exact figures according to the classifications in Blanc, Norges første nationale scene, but the approximation seems advisable because of possible differences in interpreting types.

<80> See Appendix, Section A.

<81> Petersen and Andersen, lllustrert dansk litteratur-historie, 3: 436.

<82> Petersen and Andersen, Illustrert dansk litteratur-historie, 3: 609.

<83> Petersen and Andersen, lllustrert dansk litteratur-historie, 4:33-41.

<84> Petersen and Andersen, Illustret dansk litteratur-historie, 3: 266.

<85> See Appendix, Section B.

<86> Skandinaven, March 30, 1870.

<87> See Appendix, Section C.

<88> Jæger, lllustrert norsk literaturhistorie, 2: 64-84.

<89> Jæger, lllustrert norsk literaturhistorie, 2:385.

<90> Jæger, lllustrert norsk literaturhistorie, 2: 281.

<91> Blegen, Norwegian Migration, 309,

<92> H. Lassen, Henrik Wergeland og hans samtid, 89, 90, 229, 279, 280 (Christiania, 1877).

<93> Jæger, lllustrert norsk literaturhistorie, 2: 419-422.

<94> Ivar Aasen. Ervingen (Christiania, 1898).

<95> Jæger, Illustrert norsk literaturhistorie, 2: 492-499, 593-620.

<96> Protocol, 69.

<97> In this list of plays repeated, the number following the title is the number of times played: En aften paa Giske, 2; Axel og Valborg, 2; Caprice, 4; Fjeldeventyret, 2; Fjeldstuen, 2; Den graa paletot, 3; Han gaar paa commers, 3; Herren set dine veie, probably 2; Intrigerne, 3; Kong Sverres ungdom, 3; Misforstaaelse paa misforstaaelse, 2; En nat i Roeskilde, 2; Petter og Inger, 2; Rataplan, 4; Soldaterløier, 5; Syv militære piger, 4; Til sælters, 6; Tordenskjold i Dynekilen, 3; Et uhyre, 3; Valbygaasen, 2; Valeur et compagnie, 2. Herren set dine veie was played December 31,1869, and presumably also at the next performance, December 31, but the record is not specific. Axel og VaIborg is here considered Norwegian. Protocol, 37.

<98> November 30, 1868, July 4, 1869, and again in the summer of 1869; Protocol, 15, 24-26.

<99> December 26, 1868, January 2, 1869, October 12, 1868, respectively; Protocol, 18, 16, 17.

<100> August 30, 1868, and May 17, 1869; Protocol, 9, 10, 23.

<101> November 29, 1869, March 26, 1870; Protocol, 36, 38.

<102> April 24, 1869; Protocol, 22.

<103> Pages 132-136. The items are checked for music, roles, and hooks. There are forty-three plays listed in role form. Of these forty-three all but twelve were played. Six of the plays given by the society are not listed for roles but are found as hooks, three plays are found only in roles, and nine are not listed as in the library. There are 145 dramatic works listed and six collections of drama and poetry. Seventy-one of the plays, or about one-half, are found also in the Bergen repertory.

<104> Hertz and Wengel were well known dramatists of the mid-century, Hertz for both realistic and romantic plays, Wengel for comedies of somewhat satirical bent.

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