The American Play - The Last Dance (English)

av Jörgen Dicander


Timothy Stayton



Antal skådespelare

Kvinnliga: 7    Manliga: 12


1993 Svenska Institutet, Chicago, USA




60-90 min



Översatt till




In the parish of Grytnäs in Dalecarlia a group of Swedes are planning to emigrate to America in 1853. Their leader is Jan-Erik Lindkvist, a crofter, who can speak English. He dreams of becoming an author and has among other works written the song "We sold our homesteads". He expects to earn money from his writings in America. His wife Karolina is very doubtful about the emigration. Gradually she promises to go with him.
The journey cannot, however, take place as planned as their only cow is stolen and as Jan-Erik is taken seriously ill with consumption.
In Act I the Reaper makes a first attempt to cause Jan-Eriks death by playing the Death Dance on his violin. This dance originates from Grytnäs but is better known in its Hälsingland variant (The Horga tune). The Reaper´s malicious deed does not succeed to begin with, but in Act II he gains his ends. Jan-Erik dies after an exchange of words based on an old European legend about three dead men and three living men. The legend also originates from Grytnäs. In the epilogue of the play, Karolina marries the immensely rich farmer Larses Erik Karlsson to whom she always was the woman of his dreams.
There is more folklore in the play: a fiddler called Brusen is suddenly struck by blindness but eventually the curse is lifted from him and he gets his eye sight back.
Only one family emigrates in the end, Karolinas newly married sister and husband.
From the dramaturgical point of view, Jan-Erik and Karolina are suppressed by the theft of their only cow but also by the foundry proprietor Hampus Cornelius and his manager. They threaten Jan-Erik, partly because he has stolen a few trees, partly because he, when being found out, verbally insults the authorities and the King (lese-majesty). The strongest character however is the Reaper, when he kills Jan-Erik.

- Jan-Erik Lindkvist is a dreamer, an outsider. Not even his wife appreciates and understands him fully. But he is not one to let himself be subdued.
- Karolina wants her husbond to be like everybody else, and therefore she is always nagging at him, but after his death she regrets this deeply.
- Cornelius, the foundry proprietor, shows the two sides of the patriarchic society. In Act I , he is the father type who cares for his "children"; in Act II he punishes them in wrath.
- Larses Erik Karlsson, the rich farmer, is at the beginning of the play a miser, but then he falls in love and becomes completely mad. He dresses as a tramp to be able to approach Karolina. And he is the one who steals the cow to prevent Karolina from going away. In the old Dalecarlia, the punishment for a cow theft was stoning to death. He is prepared to take such a risk for the sake of his love. When, in the end, Karolina becomes his wife, he turns into an open-minded and generous man.