TSB Showplace, New Plymouth

01/08/2009 - 08/08/2009

ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre, Auckland

10/07/2013 - 14/07/2013

Isaac Theatre Royal, Christchurch

23/07/2009 - 29/07/2009

St James Theatre 2, Wellington

08/07/2009 - 19/07/2009

Production Details


Do you remember the last time it snowed in Courtenay Place? It was August 2002 – and Slava’s SNOWSHOW blasted it’s way into the St James Theatre with a magical show of snow, clowns and huge balls that kept the audience playing long after the snow stopped flying.

Well Slava’s SNOWSHOW is back – this magical show that will transport you into a world of wonderment and fantasy where one image melts into another.

This is the highlight of the year – a stunning spectacle of beautifully crafted vignettes combined with the silliness of slapstick, the poignancy of traditional clowning and the fun of playing in snow.

If you didn’t catch it in 2002 then Slava’s SNOWSHOW is unlike anything you have seen before – a world of wonder an unmistakably unique comedy masterpiece.

The ensemble cast of clowns use water, cobwebs, bubbles and dry ice to dazzling effect; a world of wonder in which a bed becomes a boat, a web of cotton envelops the audience and one tiny piece of paper begins a blinding, heart-stopping snowstorm that engulfs an awestruck audience in a blizzard of sparkling snowflakes.

Bring your kids (maybe not the littlies as the clowns can be a bit scary), your teenagers, your granny, your corporate clients or your work colleagues because Slava’s SNOWSHOW is to clowning what Cirque du Soleil is to the circus according to Variety Magazine

‘This is the single most beautiful thing I have ever seen in a theatre in my life.’ Simon Callow

‘Utterly breathtaking, the stage effects are dazzling …. suddenly the audience is young, innocent and transported with delight’ Daily Mail  

Visit the Slava’s SNOWSHOW website.


Slava’s SNOWSHOW at the St James Theatre is generously supported by the Museum Hotel.  Why not treat yourself to a great night out and stay over at the Museum Hotel!

Wed 8 July to Sun 19 July (no performance on 13 July)

Family 2/2: Premium (Matinees only) $249.90, A Reserve $209.90, B Reserve $169.90
C Reserve: $139.90
Adult: Premium $79.90, A Reserve $69.90, B Reserve $59.90, C Reserve $49.90
Groups 8+: Premium $69.90, A Reserve $59.90, B Reserve $49.90
Child still at school/Tertiary with ID: Premium (Matinees only ) $49.90, A Reserve $39.90,
B Reserve $29.90
Tertiary with ID C Reserve $24.90
*Service Fees Apply

Book Online


The Solid Energy Season of SLAVA’S SNOWSHOW
Isaac Theatre Royal
Thurs 23 July and Tue 28 July at 7.30pm; Fri 24 July, Sun 26 July and Wed 29 July at 6.00pm; Sat 25 July at 2.00pm and 7.30pm
Length: 2 hours (including interval)
Ticket Prices: $20-$95; family tickets $120
Bookings: or 0800 TICKETEK (84253835)   

BOOKINGS: or 0800 buy tickets (0800 289 842)
Groups 10+ save! Call 09 357 3354

Artem Zhimolokhov (Yellow/Green main role)
Jef Johnson (Yellow/Green main role)
Yury Musatov
Tatiana Karamysheva (Green Team)
Gigi Vega Morales
Nikolai Terentiev

The winter of our content

Review by Matt Baker 13th Jul 2013

It’s no surprise that Slava’s Snowshow won the Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatrical Experience. Reading his biography and musings, one can only begin to scratch the surface of Slava Polunin’s ethos on theatre. The rest must simply be experienced.

Polunin first created his clown persona Asisyai over thirty years ago, which speaks volumes when considering how both original and enduring the character is. Even Polunin’s first televised sketch from a New Year’s Eve programme in 1980 is included in the show. He has been heralded as the best clown in the world, and it’s easy to see why. Polunin has fascinating particularisations, perfect timing and rhythm, and incredibly astute subtleties. [More


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Completely enchanting

Review by Nik Smythe 11th Jul 2013

Judging by the publicity images and the visually splendid children’s picture-book set, comprising a backdrop of perfectly asymmetrical green and purple screens like hanging giant tatty duvets, I’m anticipating the ensuing performance to be enchanting and spectacular.  To my delighted lack of surprise, I am correct. 

Slava enters, a living cartoon in his floppy, furry yellow bodysuit with a red scarf and fluffy slippers, also red.  His bald pate underscored by extreme hair, long grey and horizontal, a great red honker and a world weary gaze that, whilst not in the least bit resentful seems more resigned to the adventures in store for him and us, than excited by them. 

Some inaugural funny business with the thick rope he’s attached to produces his younger, cheekier sidekick in his green trench coat, absurdly long black shoes and a purple hat with double brims stretching over the shoulders and covered with a sort of thick cobweb.  As with Slava, there’s a deceptive complexity to his simpleton demeanour. 

They seem to understand they’re here to entertain and are casually compliant to the task, turning an attempt to achieve something as simple as folding their arms into an amusing interpretive dance.  Meanwhile their faces and gestures belie rich, deep wells of emotion, intrigue and intent. 

A chorus of five more red-schnozzed fools sharing the unlikely uniform of the green-coated sidekick suddenly appear on the scene to provide a taste of the kind of ridiculous, chaotic antics that we can expect from them throughout the evening.  One produces a fish, the others nonchalantly chase after him… but is it just a red herring?  At other times they’re not above clambering into the crowd, even stealing audience members’ water bottles and showering us with them. 

What at first appears to be an unfortunate tear in the backdrop transforms under clever lighting to reveal a golden crescent moon.  Virtually every piece of the set and various props are employed in this way, tools for the imagination with original and surprising uses. 

There are too many incidental highlights to mention – bubbles, leaky umbrellas, winged cupids, leaning furniture to name a handful.  There’s almost no dialogue, with Slava’s stuffed telephone routine being the most vocally driven sketch, albeit in a form of gibberish that resembles a pre-speech toddler mimicking the inflections of their parents. 

The action is highlighted throughout with striking light-effects and a rich, immersive musical score, including familiar works such as ‘Chariots of Fire’ and ‘Moonlight Sonata’ (along with others I recognise but don’t know the titles of).

The soundtrack and physical action is so perfectly synchronised it bewilders the senses; after some time being engaged in some seemingly uncoordinated piece of clowny business, to then strike a motion in perfect unison with the music or sound effect seems like magic.

As a critic I search for faults but I can’t imagine even the most belligerent of nit-pickers finding anything to disparage in this masterpiece.  From the great spectacle – an incredible feast of technical visual effects, like storms of literally millions of tiny strips of paper ‘snow’ blown asunder in billowing fog – to the tiniest physical detail, such as the way Slava’s gait visibly expands and contracts as he sighs long-sufferingly, at every level you would have to be blind or psychotic to not be completely enchanted. 

The apparent theme of some Odyssey-like journey taking place is undercut and interspersed with seemingly disparate routines and vignettes.  Part of the fun is trying to understand what’s going on while keeping in mind (a) it doesn’t make any real sense, and (b) it really doesn’t matter.  I had actually expected more of a driving narrative, such as in Red Leap Theatre’s The Arrival, but instead Snowshow plays in sketches and vignettes that almost seem to make congruous sense, but ultimately can’t be fully grasped or rationalised. In other words, like a dream.

Small matter to a rapt audience who by the end are playing together with giant balloons in the climactic blizzard and hurling clumps of paper snow at each other, transported to a wondrous children’s world of pure, open hearted joyous laughter.  And all the while, the deeply drawn expression on Slava’s scruffy face is both as surprised as we are, yet at the same time blasé, unsure what the fuss is about; simultaneously wondering and knowing. 

On balance I can’t decide whether to be glad I’m not one of these funny-looking, confused halfwits, or to wish I were such a charmed, happy-go-lucky savant as Slava at his motley band of fools. 

Either way it’s down to providence, according to the programme’s Q&A: Can anyone become a clown?  No.  Only clowns.


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Liberated audience lingers on

Review by Lindsay Clark 24th Jul 2009

The venerable splendour of this theatre has been witness to audience responses of all sorts over its long history, but surely none more liberated than the one sparked by Slava’s fabulous show. The whole auditorium becomes a playground of ‘snow’ and giant coloured balls, while the silent clowns who started it all watch, in their turn, the spirit of fun at work.

The excitement is typical of the mood of the whole piece, where spontaneity and reversals are key flavours in the brew .This spectacular production reaches everyone, engaging all comers and all ages for every second of its play: a marvellous choice for the opening night of the Christchurch Arts Festival.

Slava’s Snowshow dates from 1993, when it enjoyed a sell-out season in London, but Russian born Slava Polunin had been at work, following his dream to re-shape clowning for contemporary audiences, long before that. He founded the Academy of Fools, of which he is president, and has been the inspiration for many festivals and carnivals throughout the world, scooping numerous awards for his physical theatre work.

For those fortunate to have participated (it is more than mere watching) in the 2002 version in Wellington, there will be familiar elements in the set and sound and some aspects of the performance itself. Most of the clowns, for example, are in those same long, battered green overcoats, wearing extraordinary hats with long earflaps reminiscent of an exaggerated hound dog, especially when they droop. The wonderfully expressive feet (elongated and thin) and the makeup too will strike a chord. The standout yellow clown, in his own baggy suit with wildly upstanding red hair at one end and fluffy scarlet feet at the other, brings inevitably different qualities to the role originated by Slava (who is not performing on this tour).

Their interactions are as subtle as ever, so crystal clear in the intention of each tiny movement or expression that absurd humour becomes instantly accessible and the surreal becomes totally believable. The unexpected crossings of the physical and conventional boundaries of the stage enhance rather than undermine our conviction. The final sequence is charged with sheer exhilaration.

There are six clowns in this company, all infinitely skilled in their art, all distinctive in their immediate physicality yet all totally compatible as the inhabitants of Slava’s openly mysterious world, framed by snow spattered blue screens that can themselves behave quite oddly. Artem Zhimolokhov, Nikolai Terentiev, Yury Musatov and Tatiana Karamysheva are all from Russia. Gigi Vega Morales hails from Cuba and Jef Johnson, who played the yellow soloist clown on opening night, is from the United States. 

Since their world is essentially a silent one (though when they do make vocal sound it is extraordinary), the sound score makes an important contribution to mood and meaning. From the outset, before the space has become ‘live’, the theatre is full of bass murmuring with suggestions of engines approaching and vast spaces to be covered on some as yet undefined journey.

Towards the end of the show, when the wonderful yellow clown enacts a poignant farewell with a being made alive by his  imagination, we have felt the journey, laughed through it and loved it without wanting to explain it much further. The business of being human, one of a group, one whose world is not predictable or manageable, yet whose instincts are to try and above all to play, regardless – this is the territory we have covered.

As suggested above, the audience, in this liberated state, lingers on and – like children putting off the moment when the lights must go out – plays on …
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


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Innovative and original show melts away blues

Review by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 10th Jul 2009

Although Wellington is not prone to snow storms it is nevertheless somewhat ironic that in the middle of a harsh winter a show with snow as it’s central theme is in town to entertain and wipe away those winter blues.  But that is just what Slava’s SnowShow does, with its innovation and originality that creates an amazing hour and a half of magic and fantasy.

Developed 16 years ago by renowned Russia mime artist and clown Slava Polunin, the show has toured through more than 30 countries since then, and it is easy to see the appeal and why it returns again and again for re-runs. It has already toured NZ a few years back. 

The company of six clowns, one yellow and five green, are not the slapstick, buffoon type of clown normally seen in a circus, but rather gentle, unassuming, deprecating even, their drooping shoulders and hang-dog looks endearing themselves to the audience from the moment they walk, or rather shuffle, onto the stage. 

Even though the numerous short routines, most of which are very funny, are fanciful and outrageous and have little in the way of meaning, there is nevertheless a humanity and sense of reality about their performances. And what is so engaging about these performances is the artistry of their craft – the ability through gesture, the lifting of an eyebrow, the shrug of a shoulder to relay as much as a page of dialogue. 

The set and lighting creatively make the stage an arctic wonderland, this effect aided greatly by the endless amount of paper snow strewn over the audience. 

And audience members are an integral part of the performance; the clowns constantly interacting with them, the intermission and ending as entertaining as the show itself. 

And of course there are the balls, the hallmark of Slava’s SnowShow. Balls of every size and hue imaginable come cascading over the audience in the finale to make this a highly enjoyable and entertaining show which is a must see for all the family these holidays.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


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From spectacle to minimal, its all about truth

Review by John Smythe 09th Jul 2009

Although Slava’s a no show in this snowshow there remains no show like Slava’s Snowshow. It offers true clowning of the highest order.

Apparently Vyacheslav Ivanovich ‘Slava’ Polunin – the Russian-born exponent of alternative clowning and visual theatre, whose Snowshow has been performed in more than 30 counties to over 3 million patrons and who first brought the show to Wellington in 2002 – is presently in Paris. (He is also founding president of the Academy of Fools and in 1989 led 150+ clowns on a ‘Peace Caravan’ through Eastern and Western Europe.)

Anyone who thinks slapping on some face-paint, a fright wig, a red nose, baggy clothes and floppy shoes makes them a clown (we see them too often at community fairs and street parades) needs to see this show to understand: true clowning is a high art that takes years to master.

Because it involves finding and liberating your ‘personal clown’, no clown can replicate another’s work, so every combination of casting will make it different. The conceptual content of the show is constantly evolving too, as they explore, develop, refine … But it’s always billed as “Created and Staged by SLAVA”.

While some elements of the staging and climactic spectacle are the same as we saw in ’02 – the huge padded baffles, blue on one side, white on the other; the giant cobweb that stretches right over the audience; the massive snow storm; the gigantic balls that roll out into the auditorium for us to play with at the end – the detail in the personal work depends on who is performing.

Minimalist distillations of human experience draw us into the heart and soul of our very existence. The basic face make-up is the same for all six performers: black beard-lines and eye sockets; white lips and eyelids. Each red nose, more egg-shaped and droopy than spherical, is slightly different for each.

A rather individualistic and sometimes perky yellow-clad clown finds himself in a land mostly inhabited by rather morose clowns clad in long dull green coats, winter hats with horizontal ear flaps and very long black shoes – morose, that is, except for one little renegade, Tatiana Karamysheva* (from Russia), who keeps trying to break out but is brought back into line by the others: instant fun; politically resonant; timelessly relevant.

Intriguingly the relatively uniform face-paint and costumes – for the Green gang anyway – prove to be the platform from which individual idiosyncrasies flow from physicality rooted in emotional truth.

On opening night Artem Zhimolokhov (Russia) is the Yellow clown lead: short and fluffy duck-shaped, with startled dark hair and red fluffy slippers. Variously startled, inquisitive, vulnerable, puzzled, fearful, delighted … he deeply feels the little joys and heart-aches of existence. The slightest dip of an eyebrow, slump of a shoulder, bending or straightening of his legs becomes hugely expressive as we share his often solo journey.

Lead ‘greenie’ on opening night is Yury Mustatov. Very tall and slender, he too is a master of minimalism. It is a sublime pairing and the scenes they share are memorable, not least for the way they yearn for connection despite being so utterly different.

Jef Johnson (USA) and Nikolai Terentiev (Russia) join Zhimolokhov in an extraordinary ‘song and dance’ routine amid bubbles (see image) which can be seen as the comic terror of someone either not cognisant with the local culture or not able to conform to the status quo.

Gigi Vega* (Cuba) completes the tireless ensemble that peoples the ever-changing environment, created by an equally tireless team of stage, sound and lighting technicians.

Surreal images involving bedsteads, brooms, clear plastic balls – including one with clown trapped inside: Sisyphus subsumed into the boulder he is doomed to roll forever? – contrast wonderfully with very ordinary everyday moments of truth, be they prosaic or whimsical.

If you go out at interval, by the way, don’t tarry too long: the ‘greenies’ are liberated into the auditorium and creating chaos. (Tip: Either hide your water bottle or be prepared to donate it to the cause.) And although each act is 45 minutes (+ 15 min interval) the finale goes “as long as you like” …

The final image, of a large theatre full of delighted people keeping light-weight balls and balloons of different colours and sizes aloft, soaring through shafts of light amid drifts of paper snow, sums it all up: the universe is dancing! 
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*Afterthought: While two of the six performers are women, they present as male clowns. What would it take, I wonder, for female clown characters to take their place in shows like this? When they explore their personal clowns in training with Slava, are they allowed to be women?
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


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