The clown. He comes in the center of the hall in a characteristic make-up, on his legs the footwear similar more likely to skis. He wriggles much, jokes, draws on himself attention of each viewer, conducting with him silent dialogue at the level of gestures. Rare phrases reports that he is able to speak. Have you found the clown in this description? We’ve got used to this image since the childhood and we perceive him as a certain standard of what has to be this actor. However the image of the clown in our country differs from a prototype in other European countries. And roots of it disappear, as always.
Clowns exist at the world culture for a long time. They can remember at least related clown who consisted at court and entertained the nobility. The word “clown” has appeared at the beginning of the 16th century. Originally the clown was a comic character from the English medieval theater. This hero improvised much, and his jokes were simple and even rough.
It is interesting that in America the image of the clown has developed surprisingly terrible. The cause is numerous works where this image is exposed blood-thirsty and cruel (for example, the Joker). There was even such mental disease as a klounofobiya. Speaking about a modern clownery, it is necessary to mention Charlie Chaplin who was really popular all over the world. This comedian was an inspiration source for actors of this genre, his image was copied and reused. Chaplin is known to all also as a pronounced socialist so he proved that clowns can not only amuse but also act with their beliefs.
In the European tradition the clown is a character which main task is to amuse public the tricks, and, above all to distract her in a preparation time of the following circus number – acrobatic tricks or something other. The European clown is most often depersonalized, and not one step on the stage or two representatives on whom the attention of public, and at once a set becomes isolated, at the same time everyone jumps-runs-juggles, and on a whistle when all preparations for the following number are finished, actors quickly run behind the screen. Similar numbers don’t bear any semantic loading that reduces a profession of the clown to a position of the ordinary member of circus troupe.
And now we will look at the clown in our latitudes. Firstly, he has the personality, and his performance has independent character in which he informs of some simple morals – whether it to be or not to be arrogant or maybe more philanthropic.
The Soviet clowns were the real stars and had lots of admirers. They differed in it from colleagues from the West. Each actor tried to create a unique image of the character which will glorify him all over the country. The Soviet person could be woken in the middle of the night and asked to list favourite clowns. Any would call smoothly 3-4 surnames and at the same time has surely smiled.
The image of the thoughtful joker has appeared not incidentally. The homeland of all clowns are the European carnival and the Italian commedia dell’arte. From there two main masks have come: red, from Arlekino, and white, from Piero. Clowns of the European tradition are nabelenny persons, huge red wigs, bright clothes . Such clowns still kings of laughter in the West. Perhaps, would remain kings and with us, but the Soviet reality has edited everything. After October revolution in Russia the image of the European clown began to associate with oppression of the person who possess the power. All this seemed to the viewer, and it is rather to an administration, elaborate, western. For this reason there was a wish to bring closer the comedian to the viewer. As result, there was a transformation of both appearance of the clown, and his role on a scene.
The Soviet clown is not the pomaded clown, and nevertheless, the person capable to conduct dialogue with the viewer. Therefore clowns acted almost without make-up. Of course, completely they couldn’t refuse a suit, but for the audience of other countries the difference was striking. From a scene of the Soviet circus you could see how clowns laugh at bribery, theft and something ridiculous from life of the Soviet people. In such installations we see the impact of Charlie Chaplin on the formation of Soviet clownery.
Coming to circus, the Soviet person could laugh at something that couldn’t be discussed even among close people. Mikhail Rumyantsev, the legendary clown Karandash, had the following reprise. During total deficiency when even potato is difficult to be bought, and all resources of the state are against deployment of Cold war went on arms, Karandash came to an arena with the string-bag full of delicacies: canned food with caviar, sausage. He got up in the center and for a long time was silent, and then addressed the hall with the following words: “I am silent because I have everything and why are you silent?”. And then left the scene.
Wide popularity of the Pencil among the population allowed it to act with so dangerous satire. Perhaps, he has inherited ridiculous notes from Charlie Chaplin in whose image he appeared on public from 1928 to 1932. On an arena he has worked in circus more than half a century – 55 years – and forever remained in memory of the population.
With a role of the assistant Karandash there began also famous Yury Nikulin who has mainly become famous as the actor of cinema, having proved once again that the Soviet clownery attracted extremely talented people.
The Soviet school gave rise also to absolutely atypical images, such as the clown-philosopher performed by Leonid Engibarov. Leonid Georgiyevich has created his own character – the sad clown and the poet who acted in a genre of the pantomime combined with a poetic clownery. His reprises didn’t set as the main objective to squeeze out as much as possible laughter of the viewer, and forced it to think, reflect. Even Yury Nikulin who has initially not apprehended seriously the actor of “a new genre” in three years admitted: “Engibarov, without pronouncing words, I spoke with the audience about love and hatred, about respect for the person, about touching heart of the clown, about loneliness and vanity. And he did all this accurately, softly, unusually”.
Oleg Popov became the last famous clown of the Soviet school. When in 1963 at a festival in Warsaw there has taken place his performance, all public was delighted. The cheeful fellow with a shock of a fair hair in deliberately wide striped trousers and a checkered cap, with a shining face, he has as if opened for people the human face and has approached the audience, having become one of them. His number in which he hunts for light ray became his business card for what he also has got the nickname – “The solar clown”.
With disintegration of the Soviet Union, Popov has moved to Germany where he waited to give representations, as well as collecting a decade ago, packed houses. The Soviet school has played a role also here – only the real master can, without changing the role, reach the prudish German viewer who has got used to absolutely other faceless clownery.
However with disintegration of Councils also the unique Soviet school of a clownery which has fallen a victim of new inquiries of public has been lost. Nobody has to distract the moralyam from a show!
And now ask yourself a question: whether you can remember worthy modern Russian clowns, at least one? Perhaps, to us the satire has stopped being necessary because we have reached an ideal? Or perhaps we just don’t want that the ridiculous person in wide trousers and a red nose was more human than we now …
Author: Anton Tamarovich