Art & Culture
“How to Become Czech in 60 Minutes”
Whether you’re visiting or living in the Czech Republic, chances are you’re probably making a genuine effort to blend in with the locals.
Even beyond the language, many people pick up on some of the quirky nuances associated with being distinctly Czech. A comedy at the historic Royal Theatre highlights a few of these differences with humor, music and of course – in true Czech fashion, alcohol.
Writer and director Jean-Christophe Gramont is responsible for the play, which features three stand-up comedians and one comedian and singer. As a French man married to a Czech woman living in Prague for 15 years, Gramont said from the second he arrived, it was clear that the Czech people were unique. “I traveled the entire world,” Gramont said. “But after one short week in Prague I realized how different the French and the Czech people are. Most visitors discover the architecture of Prague,” Gramont explained. “But visitors never get the chance to understand who the Czech people really are.”
“I had an idea to write a book about being Czech, but then I saw a show in Paris a few years back that describes a Parisian,” Gramont said. “That’s when I decided to write the show, How to become Czech in 60 Minutes.”
A comic indulgence into what most expats and visitors find as some of the Czech people’s strangest quirks, habits, and expectations, the four-person play takes the audience through some of the most humorous aspects of the Czech lifestyle. The best part? All of this is done interactively – rewarding enthusiastic learners in the audience with great prizes and laughs. Normally a mixed audience filled with Czechs, long-time foreign residents, and tourists, it’s easy to relate to all of the experiences Gramont brings to light in what many say is an extremely accurate guide to local adaption.
Gramont thinks that in addition to this, audience members will leave feeling like any and all misconceptions they had about the Czech people have been cleared up.
“The Czech people are genuine. They don’t use filters or paraphrase like the French, the British or the Americans. When Czech people don’t like something, you’ll know immediately: they don’t have to say anything, you’ll just know by looking at their face,” Gramont explains.
Before the show even begins, audience members will walk through “Czech Gems: The Most Mythical Objects of Czech Republic,” an exhibit of all things Czech. The exhibition serves as an introduction to the topics that will be covered throughout the show, which can feel like a very animated motivational speaking lecture. Topics range from how to speak and dance like a local to the often comical fashion choices of a Czech person (yes, we’re talking about the oldie but goodie stereotype of wearing socks with sandals).
For Gramont, this is more than just a performance in a beautiful theater. In addition to writing and directing the play, he also owns the Royal Theatre. “One of my dreams was to own a cinema and I made this dream come true when I took the Royal Theatre over in 2014.” It’s easy to see why Gramont is passionate about the Royal. Founded in 1929 and then known to be one of the largest and most modern cinemas in Prague, the Royal Theatre and Club Chic is a look into Czechoslovakia’s most iconic time, the First Republic era. Much of the theater’s original furnishings and architecture still remain, and original woodwork from the 1920’s line the balconies and walls. The theatre still remains relevant, with Elle magazine recently ranking the theatre’s bar as one of the top six in the Czech Republic.
But you don’t even have to wait to get to the bar to start drinking. Celebrate your newly found Czech-ness with a shot of Slivovice, the traditional plum brandy, and some delicious chlebíčky, open-faced sandwiches.
The show features staples of the Prague comedy scene who aim to bring people together by celebrating the differences of all types of nationalities, keeping the laughs and relatable tales going throughout the night.
The Royal Theatre is located at Vinohradská 48, Praha 2. In addition to “How to Become Czech in 60 Minutes”, the theatre is home to many other great shows, including Prague Burlesque and Royal Boudoir. Tickets for all can be purchased online at www.leroyal.cz (except Royal Boudoir, it’s free!).