You might already encounter name Jára Cimrman. However, do you know exactly who this iconic character was? His life is filled with mystery, and even Czechs are still uncovering the pieces of his life through movies and theatre plays. Now, you can even explore the episodes from his life in English thanks to the Cimrman English Theatre.
In 2005, the majority of Czechs voted for Jára Cimrman to be the Greatest Czech in our history. However, his nomination was taken back since only real people may be nominated in the contest. So, who is beloved Jára Cimrman, unofficial the greatest Czech of our times?
Jára was born sometime between 1853 and 1859 in Austrian-Hungarian empire to Czech tailor and Austrian actress. Due to family poverty, his parents dressed him in his sister’s dresses, so he found out only at the age of 15 that he is actually a boy. Jára was a universal genius who excel as playwriter, poet, philosopher, inventor, traveler, detective, sportsmen, mathematician, and self-taught gynecologist.
According to his biographers, he constructed the first rigid airship, invented yogurt, created the philosophy of extremism, proposed the Panama Canal to US government, created a first puppet show in Paraguay, the reformed school system in Galicia and corresponded with George Bernard Shaw for many years, without response. Cimrman was also an adventurer traveler who investigated the life of cannibalistic tribes in the Arctic. Once he was running away from the enraged tribe, he missed the North Pole only by seven meters and thus almost became a first human reaching the North Pole. If you want to learn more about his life, I would strongly recommend watching the movie Jára Cimrman Lying, Sleeping (Jára Cimrman ležící, spící) where you will see the full picture of his unique personality.
As you already know from the first paragraph, unfortunately, Jára is not real. His character was invented in 1966 to caricature Czechs as well as our culture and history. He became a national hero, and more stories about his life started to appear. The main authors of these stories were Svěrák and Smoljak who started to compose a theatre plays that became so iconic that the Czechs can almost quote them word by word.
For more than fifty years, we the Czechs considered Cimrman’s humor as untranslatable and keep it almost like a national treasure in secrecy towards the foreign audience. However, Cimrman English Theatre challenged it and started first English performances in 2014. I really like their mission that is “to spread the ongoing legacy of Jára Cimrman among English-speaking audiences within the Czech Republic and abroad as the authorized professional company performing the faithful reproductions of the works of Cimrman, Svěrák, and Smoljak.”
So, after fifty years, you have the unique opportunity to dive deeper in the exclusive Czech humor with experienced native-English speaking actors who are performing at the same stage and the same costumes as the Czech one.
So far, you can enjoy three plays in English. The Stand-In (Záskok) is a story of a small Czech theatre company who just find a replacement for the main character in their play. The Conquest of the North Pole (Dobytí severního pólu) is a story of several friends from Prague cold water swimming society fighting the challenges of the Arctic cold. The third one is The Pub in the Glade (Hospoda Na mýtince), the story of fate and love in the forgotten pub in the middle of the forest. There is even a fourth play under the preparation that is going to be out from March 2019.
How to get to Cimrman English Theatre:
Cimrman English Theatre performs in Žižkovské divadlo Járy Cimrmana, the same theatre as the original plays are performed. Take the 5, 9, 15 or 26 tram to Husinecká (one stop from main railway station), continue to walk alongside the trails until Blahníkova street on the left and you will reach Štítného street soon.
Address: Štítného 520/5, 130 00 Praha 3-Žižkov
Map: click here