The Strange Spectacle of Russia’s Cat Theatre

The Strange Spectacle of Russia’s Cat Theatre
Paws at the entrance of the Kuklachev Cat Theatre, Photo Credit: VAUko / Shutterstock.com

200 fearless felines are the stars of the show

Siddharth Ganguly
May 28 , 2020
04 Min Read

A trip to Russia promises a host of weird and wonderful things to try and experiences to have. Want to cruise around St Petersburg in a Soviet-era tank? Very possible. Want to step into a 93 degree celsius sauna and have people beat you with branches of white birch? That can be arranged. But one of the most curious cases of Russian recreation exists in Moscow in the form of the Kuklachev Cat Theatre.

 
 
 
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Started by renowned Russian clown Yuri Kuklachev in the 1990s, the theatre boasts a cast of over 200 cats spanning 38 breeds that play the part of actors in theatrical performances. These feline stars act alongside human clowns, climbing over and around them, as well as engaging in a wide variety of acrobatics, balancing on disco balls and even riding a cat-trapeze contraption. All this is woven into an interpretive narrative by Yuri, the theatre's director.
Founder and director of the theatre, Yuri Kuklachev
The show contains all the standards of a circus show, with clowns in makeup doing traditional pie-in-face comedy and the cats supplementing their jokes. As the show goes on and the narrative develops, the cats begin to take centrestage. The tricks they do ramp up from short jumps to tight-rope walks and the show eventually develops into a surreal experience with lights flashing all around the room and cats engaging in all manner of stunts, choreographed almost like a ballet.

It is well known that cats aren’t the easiest animals to work with, widely regarded as impossible to train. But Yuri doesn’t see it as training. In an interview with Vice, Yuri explains how cats cannot be ‘trained’ using collars, constraints, or a carrot-and-stick approach. Instead, he plays with the cats, they enjoy engaging in the act, and that's also his response to allegations of animal cruelty.

 
 
 
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A post shared by ТеаÑ‚Ñ€ кошек Куклачева (@kuklachevcats) on Dec 6, 2019 at 6:10am PST

The success of the theatre across Russia and the world today is widespread. The cats perform in upto 12 shows a day, it attracts audiences from across the world, and has even travelled to faraway places, from New York to Tel Aviv, to wow the locals with this strange and sensational show. The Kuklachev family are now among the most widely-known childrens’ entertainers in all of Russia.

Strange as it seems, watching a show put on by these fearless, furry acrobats is surely an experience like no other.

  


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