Bellman – a Swedish national poet

Bellman

When talking about Vulgar Comedy I must, as a Swede, mention our national poet, the eighteen century poet: Carl Michael Bellman. He wrote much more than Vulgar Comedy, such as elegies and pastorals, but it is the Vulgar Comedy he is most remembered for here in Sweden. He wrote drinking songs, parodies of the Bible, occasional, nature and epinicion poetry, plays, an opera and he even created a mock fraternal organization.

Swedish current illustration

Swedish current illustration

Bellman was mostly a singer/songwriter and a performer who played all his characters himself. He created an upside-down-world much like the Carnival, in his “Fredman’s Epistles” where the feast and death, myth and realism, satire and gravity, raw reality and tender rococo walked hand in hand. The whores of Stockholm became vestals, drunks became Bacchi prophets or apostles and musicians became saints and high priests in Bacchi temple. Drunkenness, sex and death became a sort of holy trinity where Bacchus, Fröja (the Aphrodite of Norse mythology) and Charon where worshiped.

BellmanVenoBac

He made a collection of characters that was taken from the actual streets of Stockholm at the time, but he always described them with sympathy, like:
Fredman – once a respected court clockmaker and owner of real estate in Stockholm, became a well known drunkard on the streets of the town,
Ulla Winblad – nymph and the priestess of eroticism in Bacchi temple, a symbol of different incarnations of Venus, a whore who by the end of her life married to a customs officer or
Father Movitz – born 1721, became a drunkard when his wife died, after a collapsed career as soldier, craftsman and vintner, also a sought musician in the taverns of Stockholm.

By the end of his life...

By the end of his life…

After Bellman’s death in 1795, he became more of a symbol of XXXX in Sweden. Most people forgot who the historical Carl Michael Bellman really was. Instead there came a tradition of funny stories about Bellman; first stories of social rebellion for adults such as in this one:
Bellman was out walking in the royal park when he had to take a crap. So he did. He put his hat over it in order to hide it. Then he met some court ladies. He told them that he had caught an extremely beautiful and rare bird that he had it under his hat and if they were really fast caching it when he lifted his hat they could have it. So they did… (It is interesting to notice that anthropologists have found this story worldwide even in places like Uganda.)
Later around the beginning of the nineteenth century the children took over the stories and turned them more naive, like this one:
There was a German, a Russian and Bellman (it is always the same guys) stuck on a deserted island when they suddenly were granted one wish each. The German wished to go home and swosh – he was gone. Then the Russian wished to go home and swosh – he was gone. Then bellman felt lonely so wished for his friends to come back…
Bellman’s mock fraternal organization became an established social order (and still is) a real organization for keeping the memory of Bellman and giving cultural grants (one does not have to be seen publicly sleeping in the gutter twice to enter the organization anymore).
The songs was captured by choirs and used as student songs where nobody really understood what they were singing about.  Not until around the sixties the traditions around Bellman started focus on what he really wrote about again.

Other related posts:
Genres of Vulgar Comedy
Laughter, Humor and Comedy

About Micke CV
European Polytheatre

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2013 – Gudomliga Ord (Divine Words)

Kult21This is the final production from the second year students at Kulturama’s physical theatre program in the spring of 2013. The show played in Stockholm and the toured Norway and the south of Sweden.

Click here to read more about Gudomliga Ord (Divine Words)

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2013 – Salome

kult17

This was the fall production of the second year students at Kulturamas physical theatre, opened 29/11-2013.

Click here to read more about Salome.

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2012 – Kattorna (The Cats)

This show was the final show för the second year students at Kulturama’s physical theatre education 2011. It toured the south of Sweden later that spring.
Of some reason the video don’t fill the whole space, but one should be able to see the most of it anyway.

Click here to read more about Kattorna (The Cats).

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2011 – Student presentation

This is a collage of shows that I and Jindra Pohony did in 2011 with our first year students at Kulturama. It was that years final production.

And here is the full version for those of you who have the strength to watch the whole show:

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2002 – Gamla Testamentet (The Old Testament)

This show was played by the first year students at the Theatrestudio in 2002. It was built from stories from the Old Testament. The main reason was for that choice was that we had only girls in the ensemble…

Click here to read more about Gamla Testamentet (The Old Testament).

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1997/98 – AAARRGH!!!

AAARRGH!!! was Kompani Komedi’s second big Commedia dell’Arte show (the first one was not filmed). It toured the summer of 1996 in Germany, Austria, Italy, Croatia and Denmark before it returned to Stockholm and Salong Katakomb in the fall, where this clip is from, for a couple of mounths.

Click here to read more about AAARRGH!!!

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2001 – Mirakeldoktorn (The Miracle Doctor)

Another trailer from a Commedia dell’Arte show I’ve directed. This one is from 2001. It is done with my students at the Theatre Studio, 2001, in Stockholm. The show was first performed in Stockholm before it went on tour to the north of Norway and Sweden.

Click here to read more about Mirakeldoktorn (The Miracle Doctor).

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2002 – Morens fånge (The Prisoner of the Moor)

This was the first of three Commedia dell’Arte shows a director with Teater Teatropen. It is from 2002 and it was first played on the island of Gotland, then it toured the south of Sweden before it closed with five shows in Vita Bergsparken (the White Mountian park) in Stockholm.

Click here to read more about Morens fånge (The Prisoner of the Moor).

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2003 – Det allra löjligaste (The Most Ridiculous)

This is a trailer from one of the three Commedia dell’Arte shows I put up together with
Teater Teatropen. The most ridiculous, from 2003, was the second of the shows. It toured the island of Gotland and the south of Sweden before it came to Stockholm and Vita Bergs parken, where this video is from.

Click here to read more about Det allra löjligaste (The Most Ridiculous).

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