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The Theatre of Animals is a Soviet documentary from 1950 about a famous theatre in Moscow showing animals in the process of being trained and conditioned, as well as their acts on stage in front of the audience. The film illustrates why the Soviet schools for acrobatics had gained notoriety for their treatment of the animals.

© visitBerlin, Foto: Max Threlfall

Ivan Pavlov’s reflex theory provided the trainers with a learning approach applicable for almost all kinds of animals. Dog, chicken, seal, or otherwise – on stage it hardly made any difference to watch. The animals may look to be different, but we are capable of diverting their seemingly unchanging nature and inborn energies onto better paths, every frame in the film seems to suggest.

The writer Franz Kafka, however, offers a different perspective on Pavlov’s canine laboratory in his short story Investigations of a Dog.The author Cord Riechelmann will present the film and contrast its images with Kafka’s text asking how the animals benefit(ed) from this type of research and method.
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Volksbühne - Großes Haus