Trailers of Czech Theatre

National Theatre

Today, the National Theatre is comprised of three artistic ensembles – opera, drama and ballet – which alternate performing in the historical National Theatre building, the Estates Theatre and the Kolowrat Theatre.  All three ensembles select their repertoire from the rich legacy of both classical and modern plays, both by Czech and foreign authors.


The Jára Cimrman Theatre

When Jára Cimrman was voted the Greatest Czech by an overwhelming majority of the public, some foreign media were truly astonished. The greatest Czech is a fictional character who has never existed? Who has ever heard of such a thing? But in the Czech Republic, nobody was too surprised. Over the forty years of his imaginary existence, Jára Cimrman has become a national phenomenon.

It all started on 23 December 1966, when the Czech scientist Dr. Hedvábný reported in a live radio broadcast, from the “Non-Alcoholic Wine House ‘The Spider,’” the discovery of a trunk from the estate of a forgotten Czech genius. At that time, nobody knew that a figure was arriving on the scene who, four decades later, would leave all Czech presidents, kings and emperors far behind in a prestigious survey about the greatest person in Czech history. But the circumstances of Cimrman’s birth were characteristic. There never was any winehouse ‘The Spider’, and Dr. Hedvábný was the pseudonym of a famous Czech jazzman. The entire programme was a farce with which a group of radio enthusiasts amused themselves. At first, Jára Cimrman did not play an important role: he was a fictional side character of a steamroller driver. Later, Cimrman’s creators took him back to the turn of the 20th century and made him into a universal pioneer who conceived of most modern discoveries, artistic styles, and scientific disciplines. The radio programmes were very popular with listeners. Bolstered by the positive acclaim, the four founding members – Jiří Šebánek, Ladislav Smoljak, Zdeněk Svěrák, and Miloň Čepelka – made a courageous attempt to transfer what worked so well on the radio onto a theatrical stage.  

Four decades have passed since then, and the results of the ensemble staging Cimrman’s plays are astonishing. To date, The Jára Cimrman Theatre has presented more than eleven thousand performances, sold over a million audio recordings in a country with ten million inhabitants, and has not been forced to withdraw any of its fourteen plays (all authored by L. Smoljak + Z. Svěrák) from its repertoire, which is absolutely unique worldwide. The most noteworthy success of this theatre, however, lies in something else. For forty years, its plays have always been sold out, and the day tickets go on advance sales every month, people queue up for several hours to purchase them. In the Czech Republic, Jára Cimrman has become a phenomenon similar to the Yetti or the Loch Ness Monster elsewhere in the world. As with them, nobody has ever seen him, and yet everyone knows him. 

Cimrman’s popularity stands outside of the normal realm in today’s world. In an era of PR agencies, which keep inventing ever more complicated marketing strategies, the representatives of this theatre act with a sort of old-world reticence. They refuse to go on TV shows, do not organise any promotional events, and their greatest worry is how to reduce all the media attention to a bearable level. But all is in vain: not only are cafés, streets, and nature paths in the Czech Republic named after Cimrman, but also beetles, mountain peaks, and planets. If you enter the name “Cimrman” into the Google search engine, you get 213, 000 contextual links – the question is why one would do it. In the Czech Republic, nearly everyone knows everything about Cimrman. And if a foreigner wants to learn something about him, he can ask one of the local experts. There are some ten million of them in the Czech Republic.


From a play called: Investigation of the Loss of the Class Register

Jára Cimrman was, among other things, a pioneer in modern teaching methods. The cimrmanologists Prof. Smoljak and Dr. Weigel show the audience how Cimrman taught how to make phone calls in the underdeveloped region of Polish-Ukrainian Galicia.

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Theatre of the Forman Brothers

The Theatre of the Forman Brothers is a living community without a permanent stage or ensemble, a community tied together by a similar attitude to work, and to life. A community of theatrical nomads who relish travelling and wandering. Motion, playing, meeting and independence bring them to settings that are often non-theatrical, but provoking by their atmosphere, history, and inner strength. A new team is assembled for each project and every time it creates a slightly different, original atmosphere of its own, which is necessary for finding the appropriate dramatic form.
Wandering around Europe is beautiful, but sometimes water in the washbasin is frozen, it rains during the construction and the lorry breaks down. It is not enough to be creative and to play, it is also necessary to produce, build, pull down, and manage to get on with other people. Such engagement does not suit everyone, so people come and go while the caravan keeps moving on.


The Story of the Boat

In times when hard labour was rewarded with red-star medals, a massive boat was born of steel, men’s sweat and engineers’ ingeniousness. She was not beautiful, but she was strong and solid. She embraced wagons of coal and sand, and no load was too heavy for her. Thus she served people for many years. The stream carried her from power plant to mine, amidst fields and along forests, under bridges and towers. That is how it used to be…

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Last update: 16.8.2011 16:01

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