Slava Polunin, part 2.

For some wonderful photos and more visit Academy of Fools.


What Is My Kind of Theatre?
The Theatre I Love

– It is a kind of wedding cavalcade,
where I try to marry everyone to everyone;

– It is a theatre of ritual magic
and festive pageantry,
constructed on the basis of images and movements,
games and fantasies,
that are the common creation of the audience and the people of the theatre;

– It is a theatre which inexorably grows
from dreams and tales;

– It is a theatre of hopes and dreams,
full of longing and loneliness,
losses and disillusionment;

– It is a theatre which always changes,
which breaths spontaneous improvisation
and cares scrupulously for tradition;

– It is in the vein of contemporary
multi-layered synthesis,
on the boundary of life and art;

– It is a theatre that works in an epic-intimate alloy
of tragedy and comedy,
of absurdity and naivity,
of cruelty and gentleness;

– It is a theatre which escapes
definition and the unequivocal
understanding of its actions,
as from attempts
to usurp its freedom.

Slava Polunin

I found a translated interview with Polunin, and here are some excerpts.

As for my profession, here I started with the naïve things, a mere eccentric pantomime. My ideal was an early Chaplin. I took eccentricity very seriously and studied a theory of trick. When Buster Keaton worked at the film studio, he carried two suitcases of tricks with him – two actual suitcases with files of enlisted tricks, a real collection. I did the same. I even elaborated a theory: if a turn consists of 25 tricks, it can be considered classical. I worked at the rhythm, at the techniques; I elaborated a whole eccentric scale. But when I reached the top, I lost the interest: quantity didn’t provide quality. I could make people roll in the aisles, it didn’t take any effort, but I suddenly understood: laughter is not so important. I began doing only 5 tricks instead of 25, so the techniques did not go against the rhythm of personage’s character development. I concentrated on the personage, on his condition and thoughts. Thus eccentricity changed to poetical process.

If the crowd is moving in one direction, screaming, then, maybe, you should take an opposite direction and keep silence? We need to find the means to be heard and to be noticed, we need to make people want to listen to us. The circus has lost the poetic emotion; I’ve decided to bring it back.

At first I demanded my guys to be straight, slim, brawny, to do yoga, ballet dancing. But later it became clear that good-looking people do not fulfill their task; they rather broaden the precipice between the audience and us. We were in deep shit. And it was then that I forgot any former principles and began to take in the troupe the one-eyed, the cross-eyed, the ugly, the strange, the bold, the paunchy, as long as they delivered something nice to the performance. I’m joking, of course.

Slava will be voicing a character in the upcoming puppet film from Russia, GOFMANIADA

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