Interview: Brno’s Cabaret des Peches To Return, Rewarding Supporters With Creativity
“Beware of your wishes. They might come true at Cabaret des Péchés!” Brno’s Cabaret des Péchés will soon reopen their doors to Brno audiences, and are offering fans creativity in return for their support in a crowdfunding campaign. Brno Daily spoke to the Cabaret’s Elizaveta Černják to find out more. Photo Credits: Olga Popova Photography.
“Beware of your wishes. They might come true at Cabaret des Péchés!” This is the motto of the Cabaret des Péchés, a tight-knit team of enthusiastic artists and gastronomy professionals. Counting down the days until the gates of the Cabaret reopen, they have launched a crowdfunding campaign on Hit Hit, not only to raise money but also to bring the public closer to this unique place in Brno. Supporters can choose between many different rewards and experiences, such as hand-made jewellery or dance classes. Elizaveta Černják, singer and dancer at Cabaret des Péchés, told us more about the initiative, revealing some fascinating details behind the scenes of the world of cabaret.
How and when did you realize you wanted to become a cabaret dancer?
EČ: Since I was a child, I wanted to be an actress. But first of all, my biggest dream was to become a ballerina. My mom is an opera singer, so it was not a coincidence that the destiny of my life was to “perform” somehow. When I was sixteen, I attended the Russian Academy of Theatre Arts, a very famous academy in Russia. It’s very difficult to be accepted there, there is huge competition. But, by some magic, I did it.
When I moved to Brno, two years and half ago, many questions kept running through my head: “How will I find myself here, in Brno? Where will I make money?”. Here, I wanted to find a job that would make me feel fulfilled. I started to search everywhere, also asking on Facebook groups. A bit later, I heard about some competitions for a new cabaret in Brno. So, I just introduced myself to them and they invited me for an individual audition.
So, that’s how I became a cabaret artist. I tried many things in Moscow, but I had never experienced something like this. I am happy that it happened here and I really appreciate that they chose me, even though at the time I didn’t speak Czech, at all. Then, I learned the language very fast.
When the theatre can open again, our shows will become more and more English-friendly, since 70-80% of our artists speak English.
What emotions do you experience on a stage? And how did you feel when you were deprived of your audience because of the pandemic?
EČ: I just love the audience and I’m thankful to the people for coming to the cabaret. I think it’s a special place, not only in Brno but in Europe. It’s a typical cabaret, like the Moulin Rouge, with red curtains, red table and chairs, and red carpets. It’s beautiful.
In our cabaret, people can try many nice drinks and special desserts while enjoying the show. Before the first quarantine, we also had a kitchen. There were rooms dedicated to dinner and sometimes some famous chefs were invited to prepare their delights. We were all very sad when theatres had to close. At the time, we thought it would only be for two weeks, which then became eight months. From October 2020 until now, we are still waiting for the news and we are ready to perform again our main show, called La Petite Scene. We are all working as a team to support our lovely cabaret.
The closure of theaters has caused losses not only for artists but also for all the people behind the scenes. Can you tell us what work is behind every show and how many people collaborate backstage?
EČ: As a singer, I can say that half of a singer’s success is on the shoulders of the sound producer, and ours is just great. Also, our presenters, who warm up the public and prepare them to welcome the artists, play a very crucial role. Our concert hall, where we have the shows, is not so big – the maximum we can host is 170 people. So, the contact with the audience is very close and it’s important that people are already ready for us.
Of course, our choreographer, who prepares many nice numbers for dancers, is essential. Things change very fast in the entertainment world and we should be ready for everything. And he also takes care of our figures… bringing some food made by him on stage! There is our seamstress who makes the costumes for us. Sometimes the artists also make the dresses themselves, modeling the traces, preparing the base for the dress, making jewellery… The belly-dancers used to make their own shiny and colorful costumes!
Also the staff at the bar are part of our team. We are all together, of course, and we are not split into categories. Even when we’re not performing, we go there to support the other artists and enjoy a cup of coffee – there is also super good coffee in cabaret – or a glass of wine. The prices are affordable, not expensive at all… When I arrived there, I expected the price to be much higher, but I was surprised that in such a great place the prices are just normal, like in every kavarna here.
I love to say that we are a laugh-cabaret and everyone who comes just wants to stay there and enjoy the atmosphere.
Although online events will never replace live shows, have you taken advantage of the digital stage in recent months? How did you reinvent yourself? Were there any virtuous practices of collaborative solidarity among you artists?
EČ: In the beginning of the last quarantine we all had some meetings together on Zoom, to keep in touch. Some artists tried to organize digital events, but it’s very difficult due to the required documents. I know that some of our guys made digital events to support some causes. For example, an artist recorded videos and had some online workshops to support a girl who has been suffering from a disease since she was a child. We all support each other by sharing news, photos, videos… We are a team and we fight together.
From my personal view, real connection with the audience has to be achieved not only through digital events, but especially through social media, like nice Instagram stories. When we opened in December, for just two weeks, we made some funny Christmas videos about life in cabaret and we published them on Instagram and YouTube.
How do you think the government handled the situation? Did you receive some kind of funding in the last months?
EČ: Since I am a singer there, I do not have much to say about government funding. I hope that they are at least trying to save the general situation in the country, in each field. So, we are just waiting for artists to have the opportunity to perform again. Generally, I wish for people to be more responsible for their health… And wash their hands when they come!
You are running a crowdfunding campaign to restart with enthusiasm and creativity. Can you tell us what it is all about and how the audience can contribute to the campaign? What will be the rewards for those who decide to take part?
EČ: We decided to organize this campaign not only to raise money, but also to make cabaret more familiar to people who still don’t know of the existence of this place in Brno. This summer we are planning to put on the street a small box with cabaret ice-cream, which will be very innovative because our artists will take part in this, going there in their costumes to communicate with people, talk to them.
We have many types of rewards for everyone. You can simply donate CZK 100 or decide to buy something nice, like cabaret jewellery – silver earrings with a letter C – or a bowtie for men made by our artists and their families. And when it is possible to meet each other offline, we will also offer some work-out training, burlesque classes, and singing and dancing lessons. You can also buy the opportunity to create your own drink in the bar, or to perform with some of our artists. The first time we did it, it sold out super fast, so we decided to do it again. Our choreographer will prepare some numbers and people will perform with us in future shows.
There are also more expensive options, like the “Star of Fame” in Brno, to memorialize yourself there. Or joining the cabaret as a partner and, of course, your advertisements will be published from our side. All the options are available on the Hit Hit website… There are so many things that choosing will be very hard!!
Photos: Cabaret des Péchés
About Elizaveta Černják
After having attended musical school for clarinet and piano, she studied at the Russian Academy of Theatre Arts (GITIS), in Moscow, from 2005 to 2010, specializing in acting for music theater. From 2008, until now, she has performed in solo concerts as well as musical and dramatic performances at GITIS.
For eight years, from 2010-2018, Elizaveta performed at major venues in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other cities, including the Grand Kremlin Palace, Luzhniki Concert Hall, Oktyabrsky Concert Hall, the Ice Palace of St. Petersburg, with various international artists such as Toto Cutugno, Sergey Penkin, Alessandro Safino, Zara, Lolita, Nikolai Baskov, Igor Krutoy and others.
She has also appeared on TV shows including New Year Blue Light, the Field of Miracles, One to One, and 2 Stars. After many experiences in Moscow, where she performed with jazz bands and acapella groups, she has also travelled around the world, from Italy, Latvia, Estonia, through Kazakhstan, Cyprus, to Portugal and Ukraine.
Since 2020, she has been a teacher of music and acting in the Brusinka multicultural center in Brno, and a member of Cabaret des Péchés.