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|Born||Vyacheslav Ivanovich Polunin
12 June 1950
Novosil, Russia, USSR
|Occupation||Actor, performance artist|
Vyacheslav Ivanovich “Slava” Polunin PAR (Russian: Вячеслав Иванович (Слава) Полунин) (born 12 June 1950) is a Russian performance artist and clown. He is the creator of the stage spectacles Asisyai-revue, Slava's Snowshow and Diabolo.
Polunin was born in the town of Novosil, Oryol Oblast, Russia, into the family of a shop assistant. He was successful in his school theatre, imitating Charlie Chaplin, but was refused entry to the Leningrad Theater Institute due to poor pronunciation. After a few years' study at an engineering school, he graduated from the Leningrad Institute for Soviet Culture, where he later taught.
In 1968, Polunin started the semi-professional pantomime theater, Litsedeyi (Russian for "mummers" or literally "people who make faces"). In 1981, his first very successful television performance took place on the New Year's Eve program Goluboy Ogonyok (Голубой огонёк). It was a part of his now famous Asisyai-revue.
In 1982, in Leningrad he organized a mime parade in which more than 800 mime artists from the Soviet Union took part. It was an unheard of event featuring semi-underground artists at a time of strict Communist control of all artistic events.
In 1987, Polunin organized the USSR Festival of Street Theatres (Всесоюзный Фестиваль Уличных Театров); more than 200 participants, including critics and children, lived on an uninhabited island in the Gulf of Finland and made short excursions by boat to the nearby city of Leningrad.
By 1988, Polunin's theater Licedei had created five highly successful shows: Dreamers (Фантазёры), Eccentrics on the attic (Чурдаки), From the life of insects, Asisyai-revue and Catastrophe. The members decided to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the theater with its funeral. The events included funeral speeches over multiple coffins labeled with the names of the participants, followed by a funeral procession with the coffins through the streets of Leningrad. Then the coffins were set aflame and floated down the Neva river. Despite the theatrical style of the performance, it was indeed the end of the theater. The participants believed Konstantin Stanislavski, who stated that any theater dies after it has existed for 20 years.
In 1989, Polunin organized The Caravan of Peace, in which mimes from different parts of the world were on the road for half a year giving street performances in many European cities. Later, he started the Academy of Fools, the center devoted to the "resurrection of the carnival culture in Russia". The project was started with Polunin's own money, but when the money was spent, the project was frozen. In 1994, Polunin declared that he would make a few commercially successful shows in the West and then return to continue the work of the Academy with the money earned. Among the shows he organized were the highly successful Slava's Snowshow (Снежное шоу) and Diabolo devoted to "comical meditation on life, death, and the beauty of the universe".
- Dan Bacalzo (9 Sep 2004). "Review: Slava's Snowshow". TheaterMania. Retrieved 2009-02-19.
- Zoya Igumnova (11 November 2008). Шемякин экранизирует Гофмана. Sobesednik (in Russian). Retrieved 2009-02-19.
- Official site
- Slava Polunin at the Internet Broadway Database
- Slava Polunin at the Internet Movie Database
- Slava Polunin and the Academy of Fools
- Slava Polunin: The Monologue of a Clown, a 9-part interview, translated from Russian into English