For centuries the figure of ‘the Turk’ spread fascination and fear – in the theatre of war and on the theatrical stage. On the one hand, ‘the Turk’ represented a spectacular dimension, an imaginary world of pirates, sultans and odalisques; on the other hand, he stood for the actual Ottoman Empire, engaged in long-lasting confrontations and exchanges with Occidental powers. When confronted with historical circumstances – military, commercial and religious – the cliché image of ‘the Turk’ dissolves in complex combinations of potential references.
The Taming of the Turk: Ottomans on the Danish Stage 1596–1896 elucidates, for the first time, three centuries of cultural history as articulated in dealings between the Kingdom of Denmark and the Ottoman Empire seen in a general European context. From the staging of ‘the Turk’ as a diabolical player in royal ceremonies of early modern times, to the appearance of harmless ‘Turkish’ entertainment figures in the late nineteenth century. Artistic, theatrical and theological conceptions co-act in paradoxical ways against a backdrop of pragmatic connections with the Ottomans.
The story of this long-forgotten connection between a small northern-European nation and a mighty Oriental empire is based on a source material – plays, paintings, treaties, travelogues etc. – that has hitherto chiefly been neglected, although it played a significant role in earlier times. The images of ‘exotic’ figures sometimes even turn out to be self-images. The documents hold the keys to a number of mental and fundamental (pre)conditions, and thus even to imagery constructions of our day.
Born in 1946. MA, Phil.Doc. Associate Professor, Theatre Studies, Institute for Arts and Cultural Studies, University of Copenhagen. Research travels to Italy, France, and India. Dramaturg and translator of plays, especially by Dario Fo, De Filippo, and Goldoni. Doctoral dissertation about Comédie Italienne in a broad cultural/religious/iconographic context. Has published interdisciplinary studies on historical and dramaturgical issues in English, French, Polish, and Italian. Is for the moment preparing the English version of his book about eighteenth-century playwright Ludvig Holberg in a dramaturgical-historical perspective. Special research focuses are on relationships between visual arts and theatre; drama analysis and creative theatre production; theatricality and rituality. Lecturer at several international universities and research centres, most recently in Torino, Paris, Frankfurt, and Stockholm. Member of scientific committees and networks in Paris, Mantova, and Torino, among other cities. Publications include: The Taming of the Turk: Ottomans on the Danish Stage 1596–1896. Vienna: Hollitzer, 2014 (= Ottomania 2).