“I did not expect to like it, let alone love it” — Slava Polunin to visit Hungary again

Between 16-18 June, there will be five performances of SnowShow by the legendary company of French-based international cultural icon Slava Polunin. The play, which debuted in 1993 and has since then been played with huge success worldwide, is coming to Hungary at the invitation of MITEM as part of the Theatre Olympics. 

“…one day I realised that I wanted to create a performance that would take us back to the dreams of childhood. A show that would help people coming to the theatre to break free from the shackles of adulthood and rediscover the little boy or girl they used to be… So I started looking for something to inspire my theatre”—this is how the story of the now legendary show began, which has been performed more than 7,000 times worldwide, in front of an audience of about 7 million. 

Enthusiastic fans from country to country follow the character of Assisai, the yellow clown who has won at least twenty of the most prestigious awards for his portrayer, Slava Polunin, over the last thirty years.

The performance was already shown in 2019 in Hungary, also in the framework of the Madách International Theatre Meeting; at that time on the stage of the Capital Circus of Budapest, and now, after the hugely successful French and Australian tour, the company is preparing to enchant the Budapest audience again. 

“The SnowShow is in a category of its own, which enchants everyone who sees it, regardless of nationality, age, or gender, writes Lugano Arte e Cultura. The show is “free, lyrical, ironic, fantastic, entertaining and tender, sometimes melancholic—an evening that becomes an incredible experience, unexpected and unforgettable for the audience, who return again and again to see it, like a ceremony or a magical ritual.”

SnowShow is a clown show, a classic circus performance, and the interesting thing about it is that this time the creators have placed it in a theatrical setting. This creates the inimitable atmosphere that, as a review after the Sydney premiere in January wrote: “a snow show that will melt even the most cynical heart“. 

The Australian audience could see the show several times from December to the second half of January 2022, and the Hungarian theatre industry has also praised the show: 

“Slava’s Snowshow is a surreal and slightly absurd theatrical experience that combines traditional and modern clowning, elements of pantomime and huge props. There is no dialogue and no clear story. It’s like opening a picture book and trying to make a story out of all the pictures. There were many families in the audience, and the children were absolutely delighted. They laughed, they gasped, they cheered—and they had a blast… it’s a show that’s probably best simply enjoyed without overthinking it.”

In creating the figure of Assisai, Slava Polunin brought the character of the clown back to its original meaning, its tragicomic roots, and created what he called naive, rapturous dreamers. And with these, he captures the hearts of even the most relentless anti-clown, leading viewers into a world that, as the New York Times critic put it:

“I did not expect to like it, let alone love it, as I did”.  

The interesting thing about the production is that although the framework is there, the audience never sees the same performance twice, because Slava always tells his company who will be playing which character right before the beginning of the performance. As a follow-up to the 2019 Budapest performances discussion he said that the most important thing is that no one enters the stage on autopilot, as one of the most important characteristics of clowning is constant brainstorming, and improvisation. That’s why there are no rehearsals before SnowShow performances, and sometimes the cast is decided by coin flipping, and even changes are made to the show during the performance, based on audience reaction.

The world’s greatest clown, Slava Polunin’s magical performance SnowShow, will be staged at the National Theatre between 16 and 18 June five times. The sale of tickets for the performances has already started

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