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Die schlimmen Buben in der Schule

[Image:Moving Theatre logo]Die schlimmen Buben in der Schule
The Bad Boys at School

A one act Burlesque with songs
By Johann Nestroy
Premiere: 10th December 1847

Funded by

Arts council of England

Austrian Cultural Forum

Baron von Wolkenfeld, landowner
Stern, a counsellor
Wichtig, a counsellor
Stanislaus, his son
Wampl, director of a school
Nettchen, his daughter
Franz Rottmann, apprentice teacher
Frau Schnabl, housekeeper
Willibald, her son (originally played by Nestroy),
Peter Petersil, son of the castle gardener,
Anton Waldspecht, son of the forester,
Blasius Pichler, son of the cellar master,
Sebastian Grob, son of the superintendent
Christoph Ries, (all boys in Wampl's school)
Babett, Wampl's old servant
Schoolboys, parents, 2 trumpeters, a drummer, a butler, a hunter, 2 servants

The action takes place in a private school in the castle of Baron von Wolkenfeld and lasts from early morning to midday.

The school director Wampl still refuses to name young Franz Rottmann as his official assistant, although the latter has long been that in all but name, because Wampl thinks "the youth of today has ideas above its station". Wampl is also worried that he may lose his own job as director of the school founded by Baron von Wolkenfeld. Franz's ambition is to get a teaching post in the town school, so he can marry Wampl's daughter Nettchen. - A visiting parent, the Baron's adviser Herr von Wichtig, now arrives to enquire about his son Stanislaus's chances of collecting a school prize. The obsequious Wampl heaps praise on the boy, who is actually one of the poorest academically, and assures his father he will be top of the class and win the prestigious school medal. - When Wichtig has gone, Wampl realizes that he is in a quandary: nearly all the boys have influential parents whom he cannot afford to offend. The end of term oral examination must therefore be managed so that all of them receive "appropriate" prizes. Only Willibald, who is from a poor family, can be made an example of to the rest of the class by being sent home with nothing at all. - Frau Schnabel arrives with her son Willibald in tow, having caught him and his friend Christoph stealing pears. Nonetheless she is confident that her clever son will win a school prize. Wampl tells her that is out of the question, and demonstrates as much by testing Willibald on the spot. Willibald has a clever answer for every question, but they are not "textbook answers" and not the answers Wampl expects, so he dismisses the boy as "third class". An angry Frau von Schnabel now tells Wampl she has heard that the school is to be closed. She happens to know that, now that his wife has died, the Baron would prefer the boys to be taught in the town school. Wampl is horrified and accuses her of malicious fabrication. When he goes off to investigate these rumours the boys are left alone and Willibald cheekily conducts the class. - Herr von Wichtig now returns and orders all the boys to go home and come back in half an hour in their best Sunday clothes. As the boys leave the classroom, Willibald manages to hide and thus overhears what follows. To Wampl's horror, Wichtig informs him that the Baron intends to conduct the examination personally. He expects his son Stanislaus to perform just as well as Wampl had predicted, and will hold Wampl personally responsible for any question his son answers incorrectly. When Wichtig has gone Wampl, in desperation, asks Franz to help him. Franz has an idea: the order of questions must be fixed in advance and tally with the order in which the pupils are to be examined. Each pupil will be given a piece of paper with the correct answers to their questions which they should hide under the peaks of their caps so they can read them. A grateful and delighted Wampl promises Franz the hand of his daughter as a reward. The listening Willibald, however, glimpses an opportunity to get even for his own exam failure. - Franz hands out the answers as arranged and Wampl conducts a "dress rehearsal", which runs exactly according to plan. But when Wampl and Franz leave the classroom to welcome the Baron and the boys' parents, Willibald persuades the other boys to swop their pieces of paper with each other, to make things a bit more interesting. - [Chorus of parents] - The Baron conducts the examination, and the boys reply with confidence, but none of the answers match the questions. Franz is baffled and Wampl is in despair, until they begin to realize that the Baron is actually stone deaf and cannot hear the answers. At the end of the examination the Baron announces to the parents and boys that the school will close and be merged with the ordinary school in town. Wampl is devastated, until he discovers that he is to be given a pension that matches his salary plus an additional 100 guilders a year. Franz is to be given a teaching post at the school. The school medal, which Wampl intended for Stanislaus, is given by the Baron to Christoph as the youngest in the class, but Christoph decides to swop it with Willibald for a biscuit. All the other boys receive a book as a prize, and the Baron congratulates Franz and Nettchen on their engagement.


The Plays of Johann Nestroy. A directory of synopses prepared by Julian Forsyth & Zoe Svenson.
Funded by the Austrian Cultural Forum and Arts Council England. © Moving Theatre 2004