About spex

Haven’t quite understood what spex is all about? Or do you think, God forbid, that it’s not for you? Read these lines and you’ll get a better understanding of spex!

Spex is a very student-centric activity and can be found at almost all universities and colleges in Sweden. A spex is a special form of theater where singing, dancing, music, and dialogue are mixed together, while a well-thought-out plot is presented. All this takes place over the course of roughly three acts and three hours. The spex should address a somewhat commonly known historical event, but explain it in a completely different way than the common (mis)understanding in history books. All dialogue is – at least in Fysikalen – in rhyme and various puns (both high and low!) are often woven into the lines.

Here is an example in Swedish but with English translations (unfortunatly without rhymes) from Pompeii (Fysikalen, 2010). The Germanic soothsayer Veleda wants to show her skills to Emperor Nero, but his advisors Plinius and Balbilus are skeptical…

P: Nu vill vi veta vad dina förmågor består i!
P: Now we want to know what your abilities consist of!
V: Det är mina inälvor jag spår i.
<Hämtar en bålskål>
Det finns mycket matnyttigt här i min bål.
V: I read omens in my entrails.
<Fetches a bowl of entrails>
There is much to digest here in my bowl.
B: Det här är för magstarkt, mer än jag tål…
Jag förutspår att hon bara slingrar sig!
B: This is too strong for my stomach, more than I can handle…
I foresee that she’s just dodging!
V: Det här med att spå i tarm kan jag på mina tolv fingrar, nej,
tio, Det lärde jag mig ju redan hemma i Hessen!
Fast kejsarbröllop ser jag i skvallerbrässen.
och dessutom har jag spått i halsen, tvi!
Jag tyder normalt insidan av tarmen utan besvär,
men här verkar det lite luddigt,
och här syns ingenting, det är värre än suddigt!
Den är helt kajko, måste vara en blind tarm det här…
V: Reading intestines is something I know like the back of my hand, I mean, fingers,
ten, I learned this back home in Hesse!
But I see an imperial wedding in the gossip gland.
And besides, I’ve also read in the throat, yuck!
I usually interpret the inside of the intestines without trouble,
but here it seems a bit fuzzy,
and here nothing can be seen, it’s worse than blurry!
This is completely messed up, it must be a blind gut…
P: Det blir ett appendix till min encyklopedi.
P: That will be an appendix to my encyclopedia.

At regular intervals, the dialogue is interrupted by a song, where the actors get the opportunity to shine accompanied by the orchestra.

Fysikalen Pompeji: Also sprach Veleda

Fysikalen Cortes: Velaz-gossen

Fysikalen Bellman: Skaldar bäst som skaldar sist

Unlike at a regular theater performance, the audience is free to express their feelings towards the spex during the show. If something is found funny and the audience wants to see it again, they shout “omstart” (replay), and if they succeed in getting the whole audience to chant “omstart,” the actors have no choice but to redo the scene, joke, or song, albeit preferably with some variation. On the other hand, if a joke is really bad, the audience naturally shouts “buuuuu” as loudly as they can. This usually doesn’t lead to the scene being replayed…

Here are links to other spexes in Sweden.