Oh Hans! Theater is Life

Oh Hans! Theater is LifeOh Hans! Theater is Life

When Hans was a young man he tried his hand at musical theater. He sang soprano. I don’t for how long Hans sang soprano, as it is usually a woman’s part. Hans did not stick with theater though and later became the writer we all know and love, but through Hans’ stories a person can tell that Hans loved the theater.

Hans didn’t write just one or two stories about the theater. Hans wrote multiple stories about the theater. There were characters who became singers and actors galore in Hans’ fairy tales. There were characters who loved going to watch the theater. There were plays thrown up in barns. It just went on and on and on and on. Hans may have left the life of theater, but theater certainly didn’t leave Hans.

As a person who has done just a bit of theater, I know what Hans means. It’s definitely fun. Theater takes a heck of a lot of work, but the togetherness and the whole thrill of making this production pull together is exhilarating. Your long hours practicing this song or this scene finally come together with costumes and music. There’s a crowd watching. The stage lights are hot. You’re burning up, but you’re having fun. Let me tell you something, if you’ve never been on a stage during a performance, it’s hot up there. There are reasons why various stage performers end up pouring sweat or maybe even just flat-out taking off all their clothes while performing. It’s Les Miserables like you’ve never seen it before…

Hans told stories in many parts of his life and his theater life was no exception. Performers also tell stories. They bring written word to life in front of a crowd. There is no safety net. There’s no pencil eraser. There’s no rewind or redo in front of a crowd. They practice a story and bring it to life, for better or worse, on a hot stage in front of eager faces.

Hans lovedĀ  theater and I don’t blame him.

Oh Hans! Bertel is not your Man

Oh Hans! Bertel is not your ManOh Hans! Bertel is not your Man

Bertel, Bertel, Bertel, Bertel…how many times do we have to read this name in Hans’ stories.

Bertel Thorvaldsen is awesome. Bertel Thorvaldsen is great! Bertel Thorvaldsen is so talented. Bertel Thorvaldsen is handsome. Come on Hans, everyone can tell you have a guy crush on Bertel.

Bertel was pretty great. He was a very talented sculptor. He sculpted in the neo-classical style, which hadn’t been a thing for a long, long time. He even went to Italy to study sculpture. Denmark is very proud of Bertel. He came from Copenhagen and emerged a great artist.

Bertel’s work really was amazing. His sculptures remind me of Michelangelo’s. He was just an amazing sculptor. I cannot imagine the patience it took to create sculptures in marble in the same way that Bertel did. I’ve tried working in marble, it’s no picnic. What I made looked nowhere near as good as what Bertel made and my hunk of marble was tiny.

I can see why Hans admired Bertel so much. The things Bertel did were amazing, but I kind of wish Hans would shut up about him. Bertel was quite a bit older than Hans and most likely the two wouldn’t have had a whole lot to do with each other. Bertel died in 1844.

One of the things that Bertel did do, that Hans most likely thought was just awesome, was that Bertel sculpted figures from Greek mythology. Hans liked stories and so did Bertel. Hans probably read about this figures from Greek mythology and admired the way that Bertel could bring them to life, in a way. There was Jason standing there in three-dimensions brought out of an old Greek story. It must have been pretty inspiring to see this story character right there standing in front of you. Hans loved stories and Hans loved theater.

I think Hans saw Bertel as another story-teller. Hans brought ideas to life in his stories and so too did Bertel. Hans admired Bertel so much, but that doesn’t mean that I still don’t need a rest from Hans’ fangirling over Bertel.

Oh Hans! This Isn’t a History Lesson

Oh Hans! This Isn't a History LessonOh Hans! This Isn’t a History Lesson

Hans, Hans, Hans…if I wanted a history lesson, I’d read a history book, not a fairy tale. I get that you’re proud of Denmark, but goodness, I could probably pass a Danish citizenship test now, if that’s a thing. Hans loved Denmark, as we have already established, and he was not above enumerating the history of Denmark in his stories, multiple times.

If Hans wasn’t writing a straight up ode to Demark’s history, he was writing a story where grandpa was telling the kids about history. Grandpa remembers when this happened. Grandpa remembers when that happened. Grandpa will tell you about King Christian or this king or that king. Grandpa will tell you about all of it.

The street lamps in Hans’ stories even remember the history of Denmark. When the street lamps are getting replaced with newer models, they recall the history of Denmark.

History is very important. We should know where we come from. We should know what has happened in our pasts. We should especially know the mistakes we have made so that we do not repeat them as a people. We should of course be proud of our accomplishments, but we don’t have to go on and on spouting history lessons to anyone who will listen.

Hans just really loved his country. He was patriotic, but you and I all know one of those patriotic people who annoy the heck out of us. You know, that guy who takes off his shirt and paints his beer belly with the American flag and shouts, “Murica!” That guy. Hans was sort of that guy, but a little more toned down. I highly doubt Hans painted any Danish flags anywhere on his body. He just wanted everyone to know Denmark’s history.

Hans, I read stories for edification, but also to be entertained. A straight-up history lesson is not entertaining. I’m just not that much of a history junkie.

Oh Hans! Get a Girlfriend Already

Oh Hans! Get a Girlfriend AlreadyOh Hans! Get a Girlfriend Already

Hans was a romantic man, but all that romance didn’t get him a wife, or a girlfriend, or a boyfriend, or much of anything besides Jenny Lind telling him that she thought of him more like a brother. While reading Hans’ stories, it’s evident that Hans thought highly of the idea of romance. So many of the characters in the story fell in love. They wanted to be together more than anything, but many times, their love was not to be.

In the first example of this The Tin Soldier, the ballerina and the tin soldier do love each other, but do they get to be together? Nope. What about the story of the Ice Maiden? Do Rudy and his girl get to be together? The day before their wedding, Rudy is swallowed up by icy water and drowns. What about the ill-fated couple who first toasted their engagement with a bottle of wine? Nope, they too were never together. What about the man who ended up buried alive in the church of Skagen underneath sand? His love died before they could be together as well.

There were not many happy endings for lovers in Hans’ stories. Hans didn’t have happy endings in love for himself. He didn’t know what a loving relationship was like. Hans was on his own. He loved people, but they apparently didn’t love him back, at least in the way that Hans would have liked.

There were other factors to consider with Hans’ lack of relationships in his life. He was weird, no doubt, and had some hang ups about being physically intimate with anyone. Ultimately, we write about what we know, correct? Hans didn’t know real life stories of people ending up together, so his characters didn’t end up together.

There was a period in history, in stories rather, where it was romantic if everybody died. It was a tragedy, but wasn’t it just so romantic that they loved each other and then they died?

I think this whole mentality is kind of stupid, but I get the appeal. You could read a story about “true love” between two people and maybe their love is pretty great and they’re at the height of being in love, infatuated, and then they get hit by a bus. This “in love” couple never knows the hardships that come with being in a relationship, besides both being at the same place and same time where a bus also happened to be. Their love doesn’t have time to fade. Their love doesn’t have hardships to face. They never get into the day-to-day aspects of being in relationship where no one wants to cook dinner and no one can decide where to go out to eat at. Their love hasn’t had the time to be diminished or spoiled or put through tests. It’s almost pure in a way. When “in love” characters die in a story, it’s almost as if we’ve preserved their love before it gets touched by real life. Isn’t it so romantic?

Hans really liked the idea of two people being “in love” and so he wrote about it, but he wasn’t so sure about the after part, so many of his characters didn’t get an “after.”

Oh Hans! You Sure Love Denmark

Oh Hans! You Sure Love DenmarkOh Hans! You Sure Love Denmark

Hans is all about him some Denmark. Denmark, Denmark, Denmark–Hans loved it. This is what we would call Nationalism, or in Hans’ case, there was a specific breed of nationalism called Scandinavism. Basically, it’s about celebrating Scandinavia.

Hans was born in Denmark and lived there basically his entire life. It should be no surprise that he loved it. When you create a nationalistic piece of artwork, you’re celebrating the country that you hail from. In Hans’ stories he repeatedly mentioned Denmark and how great it was. He spoke of Danish history. He spoke of Danish victory. He spoke of Danish folklore. He lauded Danish artists. He loved stories about Danish pirates. He loved the Danish countryside. He loved Copenhagen. Hans just loved Denmark.

Hans wrote about Denmark in such a way that I need to go and see Denmark someday. I need to go and see the church at Skagen that’s buried partially in the sand. I need to go see Hans’ house at Odense. I need to go and see the city of Copenhagen that Hans keeps going on about. I need to go see the windy coasts that pirates used to frequent.

I learned more about Danish artists by reading Hans’ stories than I ever did with my Viggo Mortensen fan-girling, and trust me, there’s been a lot of fan-girling.

Hans has educated me about Danish history. Some of this stuff I would have never learned had it not been for Hans writing about it in his stories.

Hans loved Denmark in a way that puts me to shame in the patriotism department. Hans, buddy, you did Denmark proud.