After all these years, I am still confused…
In March 2011, I went to The Mayflower Theatre, in Southampton to watch the theatrical production of Slava’s Snowshow, performed by Slava Polunin himself. The running time of the show is approximately an hour and forty-five minutes and is recommended for ages of eight and above (Mayflower Theatre, 2017). Personally, I think that watching this production at the age of thirteen I was too young, primarily because of the idea of not having a spoken narrative and not being able to understand or relate to Polunin’s childhood memories.
Polunin is a Russian performance artist and clown who was highly influenced by the English comedic actor and filmmaker Charlie Chaplin (Slava Snowshow, 2019). Polunin describes his own work as being a ‘silent storyteller’ (Slava Snowshow, 2019). In Slava’s Snowshow, Polunin rein-acts his childhood memories by using the drama technique clowning to assist with the story-telling of his childhood memories.
There are three to seven old-looking clowns, dressed in yellow and green over-sized costumes, large shoes, big red noses, and dramatic eye make-up. The show highlights the key moments of a lost clown as he lives his everyday life. It is performed in a series of sketches, some are funny, some are complex, and some are very absurd. As part of the audience, you are required to let your imagination go wild, you need to follow their every move to get a general understanding of the memories they are re-telling.
The production of Slava Snowshow was incredibly mesmerising, yet one of the most complex performances I have ever seen. However, I did not enjoy the production as I found it difficult to interpret the gestures and movements. The best part of the performance was the ending because of the incredible snowstorm, or blizzard as it was called. It only falls for a little bit, but it is a fantastic phenomenon to witness, especially in a theatre. As well as that, there were giant balloons and bubbles which came from nowhere; it was like magic. This encouraged the audience to be a part of the show, by breaking the fourth wall, as the audience were hitting and passing them around. Both moments demonstrated a clear representation of childhood memories as you could see the excitement in the audience’s faces when they were able to take part and play with the props that were falling from the sky; it was like experiencing your first ever snow day. Polunin claims that ‘Snowshow is just an excuse to celebrate life in a foolish way’ (Slava Snowshow, 2019).
Polunin explains that the ideology behind the Snowshow was to ‘create a show that would take us back to our childhood dreams’ (Slava Snowshow, 2019). It was inevitable that not the whole audience would experience the same childhood background, and therefore not everyone would be able to relate to the experiences. Slava Snowshow was a wonderful production visually, but I found myself disappointed because I could not re-tell the story as I could not follow it. I understand why it would be targeted at children, but as a child myself I found it incredibly complex which is why I think that perhaps the target audience should be reconsidered.
Mayflower Theatre (2017) Slava’s Snowshow. Available at: https://www.mayflower.org.uk/whats-on/slavas-snowshow-2017/ [Accessed 26 February 2019].
Roy Export S.A.S (2018) Charlie Chaplin: Overview of his life. Available at: https://www.charliechaplin.com/en/articles/21-Overview-of-His-Life [Accessed 26 February 2019].
Slava’s Snowshow (2019) Slava’s Snowshow. Available at: https://slavasnowshow.com/en/about-the-show/ [Accessed 26 February 2019].