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Washington and Lee University

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Sweden

Swedish Theater

THTR 204

4 Credits

3 Weeks in Sweden

Professor Shawn Evans

Why study Sweden and Swedish Theater? Practical issues as well as the unique cultural identity of Sweden make the study of the country and its theatre a valuable learning experience for the theatre student. On the practical side, Sweden is one of the few countries in the world with old theaters still intact and in working condition. Theaters from the eighteenth century with their original scenic elements and stage mechanics are in use side-by-side with some of the most modern and state of the art contemporary spaces in the world. The Swedish culture places high value on the arts. The state supports the arts in Sweden and the Swedish people as a whole believe that the arts are a necessary part of life. This viewpoint is a stark contrast to the commercially driven arts culture in the United States.

The study of Swedish culture offers students a unique opportunity to expand their horizons. The social-democratic political structure coupled with the humanistic approach to the work-life balance in Sweden, has made it one of the top modern capitalistic countries in the world. Newsweek Magazine ranks Sweden third in its list of "The World's Best Countries". The World Economic Forum in their 2010-2011 Global Competitiveness Report ranked Sweden second, saying that Sweden has "one of the most productive and competitive economies in the world." Sweden is the fourth largest European country by area. Its population, however, is only about nine million, with most living in the more densely-populated south. Sweden is a clean and friendly country, well known for its high standard of living, free spirits, and sports-mad populace. Although it is perhaps best known for its Viking lore, Nobel Prizes and ABBA, today Sweden is the exporter of such world-renowned brands as Volvo, Ikea, Ericsson, Absolut Vodka, and Saab. Stockholm, the capital, is a strikingly beautiful city full of museums, cafes, parks, and waterways, and getting around the country is easy, thanks to its extensive public transportation system.

THTR 204 provides students the opportunity to develop a method for critically analyzing a theatrical production with an emphasis on the extent to which the Swedish cultural and social context impacts the production. Aristotle describes theater as the imitation of human action. As artists create their unique imitation of human action, their culture, environment and personal experience influence their work. Students will learn to identify the critical elements of a country's cultural identity, and how theatrical performance reflects the elements of a particular cultural identity. Students will study both historical and contemporary theater production in Sweden, along with the political, economic and social influences that shape the country's theatre productions. Students will have the opportunity to work one on one with Swedish theater students and experience the educational environment, rigor and professional orientation of a Swedish theatre-training program. By the end of the course, students will hone their ability to analyze critically and gain an appreciation of the influence of culture on theatrical expression. Meets FDR HA.

Prerequisite: 1-credit "orientation" course (THTR 203) Winter 2012.

Program Fee (paid to W&L): $4,085.  This includes ground transportation, accommodation, breakfast each day and some meals, fees and tickets for cultural activities, supplementary health insurance.

Estimated Additional Costs:  Airfare ($1,200), meals not included in the program fee ($700) and pocket money ($300).

Mandatory Pre-departure Orientation: Friday, March 23, 2012 at 7 p.m. in Northen Auditorium (Leyburn Library).

Contact Professor Evans for more information.