The setting doesnīt change at all during the play. The reason is simple: the audience is meant to pay its attention only to the action. We find ourselves in a building which was yellow once but is now of a colour which canīt be defined too easily. We meet the protagonists in one of the rooms of this building. The location is likely to be somewhere in BadenWürttemberg, but there are still different opinions among literature experts. All hints that could be found in the text are still being analysed.
The teacher - he has taken on an advanced course in English. His age isnīt sure (in fact, another point of disagreement between the literature experts). The only hint may be his slowly disappearing hair. The love of his life are female car drivers and especially the French. He has the great talent of carrying lots of material at once. The students - a funny little crowd of 23 people who have - for reasons we donīt get to know (the literature experts donīt know either) - decided to choose English as a main subject.
Summary of the plot:
Act One - Discovering the New World
The characters are introduced and the dramatic conflict is presented. The teacher and his students are meant to stay together for two years. Full of pioneer spirit, they embark on a westward movement which leads them through lots and lots of water to a country which is very fond of tired, poor and huddled masses. There they get some
information about people trying to gain independence by using Boston harbour as a giant tea boiler, people holding several truths to be self-evident and people trying to civilise the wilderness etc. Through a jungle of primaries, caucusses and other curiosities of the American electoral system they reach the American president. They are dismissed with the information that America is generally regarded as a melting pot. When trying to recall all the information, the studentsī heads turn out to be melting pots, too. Much to their teacherīs disapproval, there seems to be just chaos in their minds as far as the electoral system is concerned. As a result, the teacher utters a sentence which is considered to be the most famous one of the whole play: "Auf Leut, macht was, hopp!"
Act Two - How to stab kings, hire murderers and and climb the career ladder
We meet the group again, now trying to get into William Shakespeareīs Macbeth. They learn about important things in life such as how to become king of Scotland, irritate people by dancing around a fire and talking confused things and how to kill innocent old men. The pupils are haunted by dark prophecies, thunder and lightening and ominous apparitions. Within this dark atmosphere, thereīs suddenly another ominous apparition: the ghost of Earl Ronny is back. The literature experts made a surprising discovery: this figure has already been mentioned in an earlier prose text called Tales Of Bygone Days. It is likely that there is a certain tradition of mentioning such ghosts. The funny little crowd of students is amused as this ghost is able to confuse the teachers, the headmaster and even himself. The most important quotation of this act is "Was isīn miīm Ronny?"
Act Three - Land of hope and glory
However seldomly the ghost may appear, he causes the funny little groupīs being divided. The number of twenty four pupils causes an enormous problem for Mr Topp, the new vice headmaster. As he seems to have difficulties in dividing them in two equal parts, he creates two groups of sixteen and eight pupils. Having caused this division, Ronny disappears and is never seen again: was this the mission he had to fulfill? Was it the reason for his appearing from time to time? Accompanied by discussions about the division and especially the criteria of distribution, the pupils reach Britain with less pioneer spirit than at the beginning. They have to get to know the British Empire, the Commonwealth and the problems connected to all that. In this act, a certain tension is created by the school authorities. Obviously deeply impressed by Macbeth, they start to spread oracles concerning the oral Abitur. Even the teachers donīt know anything for sure, so "Wie isīn des jetzt miīm Mündlichen?" can be regarded as the key sentence of this act.
Act Four - A star is born
The last act is seen as the climax of the play. This structure is quite unusual, but finds its reason in the dramatic action: the pupils are bound to leave after this act because their final exams take place during it. But before that
happens, we meet them and their teacher in the world of stars: they deal with their compulsive lectures also known as "Sternchenthemen". George Bernard Shaw and Willy Russell cross their way, forcing them to think about flower girls being turned into duchesses and hairdressers becoming literature experts. These developments cause a lot of problems the pupils are expected to analyse. They sometimes donīt agree with their teacher, so small fights about the meaning of several scenes break out (by the way, the experts think that these passages are ironical allusions). On a Tuesday in April, the students finally face their exams. After that, they are no longer willing to learn anything. The teacher tries to encourage them by talking about Ireland and a one-act-play. But these last efforts remain futile as the students are looking forward to leaving forever.
Epilogue - added by the playwright
This play is completely based on a true story. Of course there were a lot of other things that were done, too, during the two years of this advanced course, e. g. attending several theatre performances, cooking pumpkin soup etc.. The ending is supposed to be a happy ending as this is the only one that fits the whole play.