Ellina orudzeva
photo: darya korzukova

Laughter is our best reward

Yuri Filatov and Sergei Gulchenko have been working as clowns for more than 30 years now. As much as they seem funny at the stage, back at the dressing room they`re serious and wise people. It`s not about filling the pauses between the performances, fot them it`s about staying in the memories people, even when they`re gone.
Yuri was born in Novosibirsk, where later he graduated from acting school. He got into circus by pure accident.
«I was playing Zhevakin in "Marriage" (by N. Gogol) while still in college, when a clown Alexander Kazakov took me backstage and said very quietly: "What are you doing here, Yura? You should be a clown!"
I have always loved circus. My uncle`s wife was an usher, that`s how I got to see all the performances for free. I sat on the ladder, and whenever my parents needed time, they knew where to leave me».
Sergei is from Moscow. Sergei is a third-generation circus artist: «My grandfather used to perform even before the beginning of World War II».
These clowns have travelled all over Russia, Sergei has worked in Las-Vegas, Italy and Japan for a couple of years. But they never wanted to leave their homeland. Yuri says quite firmly: «I`m a patriot of my country. I can perform abroad - but I will live here and die here. My parents were buried here, I fought for this land. In Tajikistan».
«Something unexpected or tragic can always happen - ropes get torn off, gymnasts and animals fall down. Someone has to come out on stage and distract the audience. Improvisation is the hardest part.You can`t prepare for it. And that`s the real circus»
«These days in circus you have to be fit and beautiful, but you simply can`t stay in this shape forever, - says Sergei sadly, - that`s how you become a clown, who fills in the pauses between the performances, who knows different genres, has a quick reaction, sense of humour. You have to get the attention of the public even if something grand is happening in the arena. Last year we had a performance at Fontanka: we grabbed the bag of a woman from the audience and gave her a balloon instead. She didn`t get the joke and ran after us through the whole arena».
«Circus loves hard workers»
- Of course, I enjoy being in the arena. But sometimes I come to the theatre with all my stage experience and think: "I`d love to play that part". There is this unfulfilled artistic talent, - reflects Yuri.
- Circus loves hard workers. You can`t just put on a red nose and become a clown. The audience is our chief director and main critic. You may rehearse your performance with the best directors however long you want, but until you come out on the arena, you won`t know who needs you and whether they need you at all.

Yuri Filatov
«We have a dream with Yuri - to be so good, that the professionals will remember us, or maybe some people from the audience will say to each other: "Hey, remember, those two clowns in the arena having fun?" We want to leave something on this earth. Not to fill in the pause, but leave something real».
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