Slava's Snow Show returns to Norwich amid blizzard of clowning
PUBLISHED: 16:02 17 November 2017 | UPDATED: 16:02 17 November 2017
Veteran Russian performance artist Slava Poulin brings back his spectacular hit family show, a joyous mix of unconfined chaos of clowns, music and a finale that turns the theatre into a swirling snow storm.
On its previous visits to Norwich, it is no exaggeration to say Slava’s Snow Show was a sensation.
This truly unique multi-award winning theatrical adventure is filled with heart, humour and spectacle, is winter-themed delight.
Describing what happens is not easy as it relies on the power of imagination and child-like wonder to tell its story. Set in a joyous dream-like world; a bed becomes a boat, a web of cotton covers the audience, and a tiny piece of paper begins a heart-stopping, all consuming blizzard.
The show has been winning over audiences and critics since 1993. It has been staged in hundreds of cities in over 30 countries and has been one of the most popular family shows in London for several years.
After wowing Norfolk audiences in 2008 and again in 2014, it is back at Norwich Theatre Royal next week, just in time for the on-set of winter and the festive period.
Leading the line is veteran Russian performance artist Slava Poulin, whose quieter moments heighten the joyous, unconfined chaos of clowns, music and the final swirling, blinding blizzard.
Slava is quite a character who seems to have boundless energy and enthusiasm. He has been dubbed both ‘anarchist’ and ‘genius’ and admits he looks at life through what he calls ‘a rotating prism.’
Born in the USSR in a small village of 3000 or so inhabitants near the community of Orel, his entertaining prowess is definitely not genetic as his parents had nothing to do with showbiz.
Instead, with not many toys, Slava made his own entertainment creating his own stories, playing in the woods and performing in shows for his friends.
When he was older, he was sent off to Leningrad to study engineering but decided he would rather find out what made clowns tick joining a mime troupe instead.
Slava ended up setting up his own theatre company Litsedel which tapped into theatre-goers love of fantasy, organized a six-month tour of major European capitals in an event he called The Peace Caravan and, of course, wowed global audiences with his Snow Show production.
“One day I realised that I wanted to create a show that would take us back to our childhood dreams,” he says of his inspiration. “A show which would help spectators be released from the jail of adulthood and rediscover their forgotten childhood. Then, one day, this show came to life.”
Despite his Russian origins and that he now lives in France, he remebers how the UK first took Slava’s Snow Show to its heart.
“I took a long time scrutinizing all the options and decided that the most theatrical city in the world was London and that the best venue to start was the Hackney Empire,” he says of the shows origins.
“Our first performances in London drew about 200 people at a time. A week in they had to open up the third tier, which hadn’t been used for 50 years. We dusted off the seats and filled them with people. It was getting impossible to find tickets. People were lining up around the block. Finally London critics announced: clowning is back in English theatres.”
Slava’s inspirations for his work many drawn from the golden age of silent film comedy such as Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and the less well-known Harry Langdon.
It is not just those early clowns who entertain him, as he also admires the likes of Tommy Cooper and Max Wall. “I also enjoyed Norman Wisdom and Benny Hill. Monty Python were also a great intellectual team, never mind their humour,” he said.
He describes Slava’s Snow Show as “a beloved child, I hope not to part from”.
“It can spread joy and sorrow, to entertain and move you to tears,” he says. “In many ways this show has allowed me to know myself; it is a major landmark in my life.”