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Slava Polunin

"[Slava's Snowshow], just like all the others, is my favourite child. It’s been bringing me joy over these 30 years and I just love going on tour with it each and every time.”

Credit: Anna Bogodist (Carol Fox and Associates Public Relations) Pictured: Slava Polunin in performance

Joe Szekeres

‘Slava’s Snowshow’ returns to Toronto for the Christmas/holiday season from December 22-31, 2023.

I was elated when I heard the show was returning.

It has already been to China, France, Italy, and the Arab Emirates this season and, from what I have read and heard, it will continue to have a busy touring schedule in different parts of the world in 2024.

According to a recent press release I received, the show is the recipient of more than 20 international awards including an Olivier Award for Best Entertainment, a Drama Desk Award, and a Tony nomination. In addition to widespread public acclaim, the production is a darling with critics who have declared it “a thing of rare theatrical beauty not to be missed” (London Daily Telegraph), “a meditation on lost souls and a red-nose spectacle with heart” (Toronto Globe and Mail), “one of the most innocent and simply beautiful pieces of theatre” (Herald Sun) and "Dazzling! Guaranteed to make even the glum thaw with happiness" (The Observer) with the New York Times confessing, “my heart leapt... [‘Snowshow’] induces waves of giggles and sighs of pleasure” and the Daily Telegraph advising, “if there’s only one show you get to this year, make it ‘Slava’s Snowshow’ and take the whole family.

I concur with everything in the previous paragraph.

I saw the show at Toronto’s Bluma Appel Theatre in December 2018, a couple of years before our world changed on account of COVID-19. I remember calling it at first a puzzling theatrical art form, but strangely alluring to watch as I couldn’t take my eyes off the performers. Their movements are precisely choreographed and timed to the music or the sounds echoing throughout the auditorium.

Most importantly, from what I remember, the Toronto audience loved it at the performance I saw.

And that's the most important thing.

I researched online later about the art of clowning incorporated into the production. Clowning is an art form that requires stamina, endurance, and concentration in its execution of theatrical magic. I’m sure I’m missing other requirements.

Artist Slava Polunin was available for an email interview about the show's return to Toronto. I am most grateful he could answer my questions about the show.

A bit of background information about the artist himself intrigued me even further. According to that same press release, Polunin discovered the art of pantomime in high school. As he grew to adulthood, he developed an eccentric version of pantomime and dubbed it lovingly ‘Expressive Idiotism’.

I can’t help but smile and laugh at that term.

Polunin has also been involved with Canada’s Cirque du Soleil as a featured performer from 1993-1995.

He has been involved with ‘Slava’s Snowshow’ since 1993.

What about the production keeps drawing him back to tour with it?

I smiled when I read Slava’s response:

“This show, just like all the others, is my favourite child. It’s been bringing me joy over these 30 years and I just love going on tour with it each and every time.”

He added the show is strong, in very good health and resistant to viruses. It never had COVID-19 and will arrive in Toronto in perfect shape.

What is it about the art of clowning that still appeals to a twenty-first-century audience?

According to Polunin, the art of clowning is an ancient form. The forebearers of modern clowns, such as various satyrs, jesters, jugglers, and histrionics, skomorokhi and Pagliacci, have performed in front of the public since time immemorial. The art of clowning is democratic for Slava. It’s not very difficult to understand and most often provokes laughter and brings a good mood. People have always loved clowning and continue to love it.

I remember the absolute joy of watching the production in 2018. There’s a windstorm and a snowstorm during the performance that filters towards the audience. It will take you by surprise when it occurs.
And when it does…just sit back and let it take you wherever it wants to take you. Yes, the art form of clowning is a unique theatrical form, but it’s fascinating to experience. It truly made me smile and laugh and just be a young child again.

Slava reassures the main line of the show remains unchanged. There are surprises born out of improvisations at each show.

However, in Slava’s words once again:

“I don’t know what patterns the actors will begin to embroider around the show because that differs with every performance. Improvisation is key in the show and will depend on the particular actors involved at that matinée or evening. ‘Slava’s Snowshow” has never had two identical performances.”

I am really looking forward to seeing it. I’m thinking I might even go twice.

Show One Productions presents ‘Slava’s Snowshow’ at Toronto’s Elgin Theatre, 189 Yonge Street.

Performance dates and times:
· Friday, Dec. 22 | 7 p.m.
· Saturday, Dec. 23 I 2 pm.
· Saturday, Dec. 23 I 7 pm.
· Sunday, Dec. 24 I 1 pm.
· Tuesday, Dec. 26 I 7 pm
· Thursday, Dec. 28 I 7 pm.
· Friday, Dec. 29 I 7 pm.
· Saturday, Dec. 30 I 2 pm.
· Saturday, Dec. 30 I 7 pm.
· Sunday, Dec. 31 I 1 pm.

To learn more about Show One Productions, visit

To learn more about ‘Slava’s Snowshow’, visit

To purchase tickets, please call 1-416-366-7723 or go to TOLive.

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