Creating a “Lapp” Character
Sámi Dress Utilised as Costume in Early Finnish theatre
Keywords:Finnish Theatre, Finnish National Theatre, Sámi, representation, costume, theatre, ethnic minorities, indigenous people, nationalism, Kalevala
This article explores the ways in which the Sámi were represented in the early years of established theatre in Finland, starting with the Finnish Theatre (Suomalainen Teatteri) in 1872 and its successor the Finnish National Theatre (Suomen kansallisteatteri), 1902. Particular attention is paid to the role of costumes in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, their designs often involving the consultation of ethnographers, archaeologists, historians and visual artists. The widest archival evidence for this study consists of theatre photographs and plays, supported by contemporary publications and newspaper articles. Textual sources were augmented by the study of Sámi garments. By identifying and analysing the relevant plays, related stage photographs and newspaper reviews, it becomes clear that recurrent ways developed for representing Sámi people on the stage. This development of “Lapp” characters was established through costume in conspicuous ways, with the exaggeration of particular features of Sámi dress leading to a recognizable trope of the “Lapp” costume.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Joanna Weckman
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