Yuri Kuklachev Cat TheatreRussian: Teatr koshek Yuriya Kuklacheva or Театр кошек Юрия Куклачева is unique for two reasons; firstly, this is the only cat’s theatre in the world and secondly, Yuri Kuklachev’s original idea and its implementation seemed to be next to impossible because cats are known to be untamable creatures.
No animal trainer either before or after Yuri Kuklachev has ever worked with cats as they have a reputation for being too independent and they cannot be forced to follow commands. It’s no easy task to find the key to the heart of these rebellious, gentle and sensitive creatures. The secret actually lies in simply loving them and expressing that love towards them. It is no coincidence that back in 1976, Yuri Kuklachev was awarded the Clown’s Golden Crown for the humane treatment of animals.
As you are approaching the theatre building on Kutuzovsky ProspektRussian: Кутузовский проспект, it dawns on you that this is a true Cats’ House, or rather, cat kingdom. Two bronze cats, male and female, greet visitors at the entrance. Looking like they might start meowing any moment, it seems like their bronze noses are waiting for you to rub them. It is believed that if you rub either of them three times and make a wish, it will come true.
Inside the theatre, cats are everywhere; on chandeliers, paintings, and on the marble floor. Even the door handles are shaped like felines. In the auditorium, sitting high on the upper circle, 120 bronze cats keep an eye on everything around them. Each of the figurines is unique. The theatre takes special pride in its multicoloured crystal stained-glass windows, which gave the theatre the nickname ‘The Crystal Palace’. The stained glass depicts large Egyptian cats which protect everyone in this kingdom from the hustle and bustle of the outside world. The theatre itself is not big. There’s a small entrance hall, an auditorium seating 240 people and a miniature stage…Yet, pure magic takes place here!
Mr. Kuklachev believes cats to be cosmic beings that are a gift to people from above. Black cats take bad energy away from you, light-coloured ones give you positive energy, and spotted ones can do both. They all do only good. The theatre production “Cats of the Universe” is based on the positive energy of cats; it tells the tale of cats which come to the Earth on a spaceship and heal people’s hearts from violence.
It’s best to arrive at this theatre with a little time to spare before the start of the performance. You can visit the Cat Museum (on the first floor), which displays a variety of products with feline images on them. Adjacent to the museum are glass enclosures where guests are greeted by fluffy beauties; this is where cats they take a rest and communicate with the audience. The female cats are separated from the male cats and this is strictly monitored. Otherwise, the entire creative process would go down the drain. And yet, once a cunning cat called Boris, the principal performer in “The Olympics of Boris the Cat” and a TV commercial celebrity got round some theatre employees and sneaked into the female section. A little while later, most of the feline ladies took maternity leave. Now, however, the womanizer cat Boris’ numerous offspring of various colours and patterns have become full-fledged troupe members.
Today the Yuri Kuklachev Cat Theatre has about 20 performances on its list of productions with two hundred furry artists of 38 breeds performing in them. They make up three troupes, or three teams of the Kuklachev dynasty. One is directed by Yuri Kuklachev himself while the other two are headed by his sons Dmitry and Vladimir. Each team is different and each stages its own performances. Dmitry’s manner is generally close to that of his father while Vladimir merges classical ballet and cats.
Most often, the theater shows performances starring Dmitry Kuklachev (the “Cats” show, “I am a Clown”, “A Winter Tale” and others); Vladimir appears on the stage with the “People and Cats” performance much more rarely, and the founding father Yuri Kuklachev himself can be seen extremely seldom. In 2016 “Cat Sailors”, where he performs, was on for one month only, and he has been on tour the rest of the time.
Yet, despite the absence of the famous clown, tickets to the theatre sell like hot cakes. For example, in summer those in the know book tickets for December (given you can still choose your seats so far in advance). The central seats in the first six rows are the most expensive while side seats are cheaper because there are columns in front of them that cause some inconvenience and interrupt your line of sight.
People never fail to fill the auditorium there because how can a theater be empty if cats perform such stunts?! It is not magic and enchantment by the Kuklachevs. The key to the performances is that cats love playing, and the Kuklachevs love them and know how to find something for each of them to capture their interest. For one cat, it will be jumping through a hoop, another one could love walking on its hind legs while a third might be fond of skateboarding. Dmitri Kuklachev once said that he keeps a diary for each cat where he makes notes of what it likes to play with, its sleep patterns and eating habits. He watches the animals for a long time to identify their inclination. This is why there are so many cat actors in this theatre company. If you watch the furry artists closely during a performance, you can notice that each of them performs one specific movement for which it has exhibited a preference, although there are those kitties that are capable of a few.
A cat will give you an idea of what it likes, Yuri Kuklachev believes, and this is how his signature sketch “Cat and Cook” was created, which he has been performing while touring the world for several decades. Once, when Kuklachev was at home, he couldn’t find a cat in any of its usual haunts. He went to the kitchen… and found it asleep in a pan! He got the little villain out but it jumped back and continued to do so! It was very funny but with his eye for detail, Kuklachev realised that it could be used to create a memorable sketch.© 2016-2018 moscovery.com