Russian clowns bring laughter to Macau via the art of mime

Friday, August 29, 2008
Issue 450, Page 7
Word count: 515
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The Russian comedians who flew in yesterday for their performances beginning tonight at the Cultural Centre said the Macau audience will be promised a high amount of joy and laughter in the action-only show.

The artists, from Theatre Licedei, the first and only clowning school founded in Russia in 1968, will for the first time present one of its mimes – clown production, ‘The Family’, in Macau for three consecutive days until August 31.

On the borderline between clownery, pantomime, a variety show and tragic farce, and with no dialogue or specific social context, the comical show is set to reach out to all ages and nationalities with the portrait of a “very dysfunctional yet very wacky family”, a Cultural Centre press release said.

The Family is about a ceaseless power struggle between an alcoholic father ever threatening to leave, a pregnant mother ever threatening to deliver, and their four children threatening to clobber both parents for their failings, whilst paying a tribute to both contemporary and traditional clowns.

Main characters including “the mother” Olga Eliseeva, “the father” Alexander Gusarov, and “the eldest son” Kasyan Ryvkin met with the local media yesterday at the Cultural Centre without wearing their on-stage whitened make-up and spiky hair.

According to the performers, ‘The Family’ is not a specific portrait of a Russian family but changes according to where the show is being staged.

“It is about every family in the world. Wherever we perform, we want the audience to feel the story is about them, and in this time it’s about a Macau family,” the interpreter of the Russian crew told the press.

The mime performance facilitates the understanding of audiences about the storyline regardless of their ages and what languages they speak, the artists said, adding that by actions, they can reach the audience and convey messages to most.

It is probably one of the reasons why tickets for the three days of performances tonight, tomorrow and on Sunday have already sold out even in a non-Russian stage like Macau.

“No recitals, no social context and no clearly emphasised national orientation is what makes it so different and unique,” the press release said, “these are the simple emotions and truths of Licedei’s art which can be understood by anyone from any place.”

The artists said they “can’t imagine their lives without theatre” and described theatre performance as “oxygen” to them.

Tired after a long haul flight to Macau yesterday, they still laughed a lot when talking about their stage experiences which they were very passionate about.

Founded by Slava Polunin four decades ago, Theatre Licedei broke up shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, with some members joining the Cirque du Soleil and others choosing to begin their solo careers.

Those who decided to stay in Russia set up a clown school and recruited new talent so as to re-inject imagination and fresh elements back into the company but at the same time respect their original spirit.

‘The Family’ is presented by the Macao Cultural Centre while those with enquiries, should call 28700699 or visit


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