The Digital Enchantment of Drottningholm


  • Willmar Sauter University of Stockholm



18th Century Playing Culture, Drottningholm Court Theatre, Interactive Tourism, Concepts of Historical Periods


How can we relate to a historical playing culture? In this essay, a counter-factual visit to the
palaces and parks of Drottningholm outside Stockholm is presented. By means of digital
technologies, this World Heritage Site could be animated with historical figures from the
eighteenth century, thus giving a living picture of past playing. Even though such an encounter
with the past is fully possible from a technical point of view, the realization of this project
poses a number of practical and theoretical questions: How can the picture of
eighteenth-century court life be broadened to include social perspectives of class, gender and
ethnicity? What artistic decisions have to be taken to visualize the activities around the park
and in the palace? What forms of interactions provided by the technology are suitable for
various groups of visitors? Some answers to these questions are hinted at in this essay, but the
general question of a poetics of playing remains in the abyss between the historical period and
the contemporary access to it. Neither Friedrich von Schiller's treatise on the aesthetic
education of man nor Emanuel Kant's rational view of judgment bridge the gap of historical
distance. Could Hans-Georg Gadamer's idea of the melting of historical horizons ever become
a reality in the experiences of future visitors? Eventually, this project might only provide some
pleasures of a poetry of playing.

Author Biography

Willmar Sauter, University of Stockholm

Willmar Sauter, Professor of Theatre Studies at Stockholm University, has studied audiences
and reception processes over a number of years. He has also written on Swedish theatre
history, from Bronze Age rock carvings to multimedia and digital performances. His interest in
the theories of the theatrical event is documented in his book The Theatrical Event (2000) and
summarized in Eventness (2006). He has recently published a book on the Drottningholm Court
Theatre and the activities there in the eighteenth as well as in the twentieth centuries (2014,
together with David Wiles). Willmar Sauter is a founding member and the first chairman of
the Association of Nordic Theatre Scholars. He has been the President of the International
Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR/FIRT). He has also served Stockholm University as
Dean of the Faculty of the Humanities and as chair of the Research School of Aesthetics.




How to Cite

Sauter, W. (2018). The Digital Enchantment of Drottningholm. Nordic Theatre Studies, 26(1), 92–101.



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