kids and clowns

We spent the weekend in NYC, hanging out with my MIL. Yesterday, she got us tickets for Slava’s SnowShow, which is a pretty incredible piece of theater for kids. A performance of Russian clowning, it reminded me that children’s entertainment used to be a lot darker, back before it got all Disneyfied.

The cast consists of five clowns who don’t speak throughout the performance (although there is some non-verbal vocalizing). For the most part, they do their act with the kinds of things that kids find to play with everywhere–bubbles, imaginary boats, oversized costumes, stick-figure bows and arrows. The Bee (despite complaining that it was going to be boring) found it to be hilarious and great. The Potato, who spent the whole show sitting on his dad’s lap, was somewhat conflicted about it.

There are parts of the show that are really loud, and I think that the noise scared him several times. In addition, there’s a moment where the main clown hangs a coat and hat up on a coatrack, puts his right arm through one arm of the coat, and pretends that his right hand is hugging him goodbye. It’s an eerie trick, and he makes it look as if his arm is actually not attached to his body. It really looks like another person patting and hugging him goodbye, in a somewhat maternal way. The Potato was very upset by the clown’s distress, and started to cry himself.

Several times, the clowns make it snow on the audience and the stage. At one point, the Bee was so transfixed that she stood up and walked into the aisle to try to catch snowflakes, just as if it was a real snowstorm. The snow is actually cut up tissue paper, and it was covering the theater floor when we went in. Our kids, and the kids of other people, were fascinated by the snow, and kept gathering it up in big bunches to throw on each other and us. At the very end, the clowns throw enormous balloons and balls into the audience, and everyone batted them around for a good fifteen minutes. One girl of about five just kept gathering up handfuls of ‘snow’ and dumping them on her own head.

All in all, it was a magical experience, and seemed incredibly Russian. In fact, I think that there were a large number of Russians in the audience, most of whom didn’t seem to have kids. At times, I almost felt as if I was watching a play by Beckett. The show was perfect without words, but it wouldn’t have seemed odd if the dialogue of Vladimir and Estragon had been looped over it.


August 27, 2006. the cutest kids ever!. 4 comments.