The most Important Plays


…One found that I was born for drama 
and another for poetry,
One made for cucumbers
another for potpourri…

In his fairy tales Andersen could give free reign to his imagination, but often he would realize that the strict demands of the theatre could be an obstacle to his untameable creativity. Nevertheless, he scored a success at several occasions with his very diverse dramatic works owing to his emotional imagination, sense of occasion, treatment of lines, and an abundant wit.

As a theatre poet much of his writing was influenced by the theatres he wrote for. Intellectually The Royal Theatre was above the common people and thus his plays for the national theatre was either social satirical vaudevilles or comedies as The New Lying-in Room [Den ny Barselsstue] or The Bird in the Willow [Fuglen i Piletræet] or great dramatic works as The Mulatto [Mulatten]. In these plays he satirized the falseness of the literary theatre circles or described the outsider who is neither white nor black but who by his own education is incorporated into the “nobility of the spirit”

However, at the Casino Theatre he wrote for the broad public where common people went to the theatre – often with their children. Here he provided popular dramas that were educational, endearing as well as a stimulation for the imagination. The fairy play More than Pearls and Gold [Meer end Perler og Guld] is a comical moralizing piece with imaginary characters and magic in a frank popular realistic style. The moral is that true love is worth more than the “Pearls and Gold of all the World”.

The Sandman [Ole Lukøje] - with no connection with the fairy tale of the same name – can be regarded as Andersen’s free popular pastiche of Goethe’s drama Faust. The main character of the comedy, the chimney sweeper Christian, in his dream sells his singing voice to the second-hand dealer Blake in order to obtain unlimited wealth and prosperity. Thus the play is the poet’s warning to his contemporaries that true happiness and love is only obtainable through a simple and modest life.