A ‘spex’ is an amateur comedy theatre act performed by university students. In Uppsala, student spexes have been performed since the mid-1800s. The first spexes were probably put on at Stockholm’s Nation, but the oldest spex preserved to this day is ‘Love and death’ or ‘the Moor’s last breath’, which was first put on at Södermanland-Nerike’s Nation in 1865.
Akilles on Skyros: Student spex at Småland’s Nation in the early 1900s. (Photo: Uppsala University Library)
Uppsala spexes are parodical plays with rhyming dialogue, often with historical motifs, songs and music. They differ from spexes in Lund where the dialogue is not rhymed. Yet another difference is that Uppsala spexes often lets the audience affect the play through commands that are shouted. For instance, the audience can demand a ‘restart’ after an exchange of words, which then has to be delivered in a new version.
Thanks to Uppsala’s 13 student ‘nations’ or clubs, student life here is truly unique. Join one of them to get access to pubs, lunches, libraries, balls, clubs, theatre, music and sports activities. The nations were founded in the 1600s and have since then been like a second home to students. Here you can grab a cup of coffee and catch up with news from your home town, study, borrow books from the nation library or join one of the many choirs and orchestras. Or why not take part in a spex?