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Jan Werich

Czech humour spoken word speech Czech Republic

Jan Werich (born 6 February 1905, Prague - died 31 October 1980, Prague) was a Czechoslovak actor, playwright and writer. Between 1916 to 1924 he attended "reálné gymnasium" (equivalent to high school) in Křemencová Street in Prague (where his future partner, Jiří Voskovec, also studied). He studied law at the Law School of Charles University from 1924 to 1927, from which he made an early departure to begin his artistic career and forge one of the most important partnerships of his life.

They opened on April 19, 1927 with Vest Pocket Revue in Umělecká beseda on Malá Strana in Prague. July 1, 1929, Jan Werich married Zdenka Houskova. 1929 - first show "Líčení se odročuje" of "Osvobozené divadlo" in main location "U Nováků Palace". In this location they continued until the very end of their theatre in 1938.

His collaboration with theatrical talent Jiří Voskovec and musical legend Jaroslav Ježek lasted for more than 10 years between the two world wars. Their partnership was a platform for their numerous lively left-wing political satires. The trio's work took inspiration from Dada, with its love of the absurd, a reaction against bourgeois values and the horrors of World War I. The two intellectual clowns attacked the inanities of totalitarianism as well as the mistakes of democracy.

In the bitter reality leading to the Second World War and the closure of Czechoslovak theatres Werich, Voskovec and Ježek were forced into exile in the United States in 1938, where Voskovec and Ježek remained for the rest of their lives. But Jan Werich returned to his homeland five years later. Upon his return to Czechoslovakia he started a partnership with Miroslav Horníček and also worked with famous puppeteer Jiří Trnka to write modern fairy tales. With his new partner Miroslav Horníček at his side, he re-mounted many of the plays he had created with Voskovec in the 30s but integrated political content specific to the time.

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