Geniet och vägvisaren : om den isländska skådespelerskan Stefanía Guðmundsdóttir (1876-1926) och författaren och regissören Einar H. Kvaran (1859-1938) = [The genius and its guide] : [on the Icelandic actress Stefanía Guðmundsdóttir (1876-1926) and the wr

Sammanfattning: The principal aim of this dissertation is to investigate the artistic career of lceland’s leading actress during the first half of this century, Mrs. Stefania Gudmundsdottir. Mrs. Stefam'a was unanimously hailed as an extraordinarily gifted artist by her contemporaries who never tired of praising her, particularly for her embodiment of dramatic roles like Magda in Die Heimat by Hermann Sudermann, Marguérite Gautier in La dame aux camélias by Dumas fils and Ulrikka in The Sisters at Kinnekullen by the Danish playwright Carsten Hauch.When read today these ovations are bound to seem somewhat naive, not least because the quality of Icelandic theatrical criticism was generally rather low during these years. One also has to remember that Mrs. Stefania and her co-actors were amateurs without any formal training. The author of the dissertation therefore maintains that in order to make the contemporary evaluation of her art convincing, one has to understand the premises from which she worked and set her into a correct historical context. His main thesis is that the secret of her appeal resided in a combination of her charismatic personality, her genuine pathos, her precise control of the physical means of expression and, most importantly, a certain spiritual perspective from which she approached her figures. One of the foundations of this perspective was an optimistic view of human nature, which has a close counterpart in the philosophy of the writer Einar H. Kvaran, who as artistic director of Mrs. Stefania’s theatre, Reykjavik Acting Company, RAC, made a very important contribution to theatrical progress. Kvaran, a gifted and popular writer, was deeply concerned with social, ethical and spiritual issues, a convinced spiritualist and an untiring spokesman for human rights against corruption and the abuse of power. In a way similar to his Mrs. Stefania made a strong impact upon her audiences by her portraits of suffering women, although her most outstanding creation seems to have been the greedy Ulrikka, whom she managed to invest with something of a tragic grandeur.The dissertation also describes the general development of RAC, the first serious theatrical venture in Iceland and a forerunner of its National Theatre, during its first twenty-five years. The careers and artistic profiles of Mrs. Stefania’s co-actors are given extensive treatment. The main conclusion is, however, that both as an artist and a resolute and innovative theatre leader Mrs. Stefania Gudmundsdottir is up to this date a unique figure in Icelandic theatre history.