School, the Foundation of Life

Premiere:  11/09/2010
Igor in role: Tonda Holous, football idiot

A comedy with songs

“What is happiness? Only a little golden fly!”, “Now I’ll demonstrate how a poet turns into a dwarf.” “I ate a sausage which didn’t taste great and I didn’t feel great either.” “Ich habe gesagt!” These well-known ‘cult’ statements come – as all admirers of Czech classic films know very well – from the legendary film by Martin Frič, “School, the foundation of life.” What isn’t so well known, though, is the fact that the film script was created on the basis of a theatre comedy which was written by a secondary school teacher, Jaroslav Žák, on E.F. Burian’s request.

This teacher based it on his own humorous work of prose, ‘Students and Teachers’, which was much enjoyed by readers of that time. It can be said today that Žák’s original “student” and “teacher’’ characters – just like the author’s fond and yet ironic view of school as a sports match – are rightly immortal. One can even claim that, as long as the institution of school exists, Žák’s brilliant and deeply witty observations about it will still be topical. Žák’s theatrical version was also used in Hana Burešová’s adaptation; on top of that, popular songs from the thirties were incorporated into it, these being played and sung live by a student band. Typical school situations which depict the “eternal battle” between students and teachers, where one can discover types and characters which are familiar not only from the school environment but also from the Czech environment in general, are approached with humour and verve.