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Fenomenet Poppe, mellan scen och skratt: En studie av Nils Poppes komiska skådespeleri utifrån en fenomenologisk utgångspunkt
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Musicology and Performance Studies, Musicology and Performance Studies.
2012 (Swedish)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesisAlternative title
Poppe the Phenomena, between Stage and Laughter : a Phenomenological Study of Nils Poppe’s Comical Acting (English)
Abstract [en]

Scholarly research on comical popular theatre is rare in the Swedish context even though the genre has attracted large audiences throughout the 20th century. Nils Poppe is one of the greatest Swedish actors in the comical genre and he is famous for his playful acting style. With my Master’s dissertation I aim to shed some light on both the genre and this great actor. Another aim of this Master’s dissertation is to gain understanding of what causes the audience’s laughter experiencing Nils Poppe’s comical acting. To understand the audience response to the comical acting I need to study the communication between the actor and the beholders.  

In doing this I use Bert O. States phenomenological approach, in which he divides the communication into three modes in which the beholder experiences the action. In each of these modes I then use complementary concepts and theories to analyze the audience’s laughter.

My analysis starts with the Representational mode in which the focus is on the fiction of the play. Using semiotics, I discuss Poppe’s characters as a stock character related to the Commedia dell’arte character Harlequin and other clown characters, which are imbedded in the audience’s memory. With examples from a play I show why the audience laugh in different scenes. 

In the next chapter, I analyze the Self-expressive mode in which the artist at stage is in focus. While experiencing the fiction of the play the audience simultaneously experiences the reality on stage. The actor is present and Poppe’s real face, body and voice is affecting the audience’s response.

The final mode is the Collaborative mode in which the collaboration between the actor and beholder is analyzed. The direction of the play and how Poppe interacts with the audience is increasing the impression of presence among the audience. In his acting, Poppe breaks the theatrical conventions of the separation between fiction and reality, and in improvisations, he challenges both the audience and fellow actor’s notion of theatre.

The result of the study implies that some laughter can’t be explained just by studying each of these modes separately. When the character leaves the fictional play and acts within the audience reality, or when the actor on stage is understood as part of the fiction an incongruity is created that tends to make the audience laugh. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. , 100 p.
Keyword [en]
Nils Poppe, Comedy, Laughter, Popular Theatre, Phenomenology, Comical Acting
Keyword [sv]
Nils Poppe, Komik, Skratt, Populärteater, Fenomenologi, Komiskt skådespeleri
National Category
Performing Art Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-90328OAI: diva2:624816
2012-03-13, Biblioteket, Humanistvillan, Frescativägen 24 E, Stockholm, 16:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2013-06-03 Created: 2013-06-03 Last updated: 2013-06-03Bibliographically approved

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