Student farce

Student farce is a form of theatre with comical and satirical elements that has been performed at both Swedish and Finnish universities.

Location: Nation wide

Utklädda skådespelare som uppträder på scen.

Photo: Chalmers Film- och Fotocommitté.

Student farces have been performed by students since the mid 19th century. However, it is likely that foolery and theatrical performances by students have a longer history than that. The farces arose from a desire to parody the academic environment in which they were being performed and to reflect events in an ironic manner. The plot, which is based on audience interaction, is often linked to an historic event or person or to a literary work with a connection to current events. Music plays a large role in both the performance and the plot. One or more songs are often sung a capella. Farces are normally performed once a year. A number of different activities and rituals are connected to the performance such as celebrating the completion of the script or after the première performance.

The farces vary in execution and form but have traditionally been linked to either Uppsala or Lund, which are old university towns. The farces were spread among student associations including by being performed in other locations. Over time, new genres and ways of performing have emerged in other places in Sweden. Today almost all universities have their own farce. However, fewer students are joining the associations and the interest in participating has gradually decreased. The tradition is still passed on by new associations having been created where previous farce actors are given a new opportunity to participate.

Several of those who have performed in farces have been inspired by their participation and have instead chosen a career as comedians within the entertainment industry. Many say that performing in a farce gave them with invaluable experience and knowledge such as project management, collaboration and conflict resolution that has been useful later on in life.

Fotografi på utklädda ungdomar.

Student farce in Uppsala 1910. Photo: Arvid Odencrants/Upplandsmuseet.