One of the earliest ethnic theaters in America was the Norwegian Theater of Marcus Thrane, established in Chicago in September 1866. Many of the plays presented by the theater were written by Thrane, a radical newspaper editor and freethinker, and are among the most significant Norwegian American literature produced in America at the time. This book includes six translated plays written by Thrane between 1866 and 1884, and covers the entire period of his active professional life in America.
Marcus Thrane (1817-1890) was a prophet of social democracy in Norway. For his activities as a labor leader and agitator, he was sentenced to four years in prison. After his release, Thrane took his causes to America and quickly emerged as a critic of the government, the economic order, social structures, and what he perceived to be the narrowness of Norwegian American life. As a writer, speaker, and editor, he was a keen observer and critic of both the larger American society and the smaller ethnic community to which he belonged.
Among a number of more or less successful ventures in the United States, Thrane wrote and produced a number of plays for Norwegian-speaking audiences. The plays are of modest literary quality, but as entertainment and dramatically presented argument they tell us much about the author and his audiences. They continue to invite reading and may yet evoke a smile, agreement, or an argument from contemporary readers.