Playing with paper

By Qi Xijia Source:Global Times Published: 2015-11-29 18:08:01

New show by Ukrainian clown troupe is more than just trash

Many creative endeavors start with a blank piece of paper. This is especially true of Paper World, the new show by Ukrainian clown troupe Mimirichi.

Established in Kiev, in the mid-1980s, the clown quartet was granted professional theater status in 1989. In 1991, it became a member of the World Clown Association.

Debuting in Germany, Paper World has toured roughly 15 countries and regions, including the UK, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Ireland, Belgium, Pakistan, Japan, the US and Latin America.

This Saturday they will bring the show to Shanghai as part of their first tour to the Chinese mainland, which lasts from December 1 to 20.

The 90-minute show features all the elements you would expect, with four clowns juggling, miming and dancing on the stage.

However, what is special about this show is that all the props they use are made entirely from paper.

The performers experiment with paper, using it to juggle and to create other props.

By the end of the show, the stage is strewn with leftover paper. During each performance, they will get through around 20 kilograms of paper.

Alexander Sparinsky, composer and producer of the show, told the Global Times that using paper was the idea of the company's art director Andrew Gonsales.

He said that it was like a spontaneous decision. They first developed a few sections of show that utilized paper, such as a piece called Vacuum Cleaner. Eventually, they had enough segments to make an entire show.

"Regular paper color is white. In the white paper, you can write anything you want. It's a blank slate. And everyone writes whatever he wants. Our clowns create our own world in the show," said Sparinsky.

The world that Mimirichi has created is a secret garden for grown-ups where they can revert to childhood, throw paper around, have a paper fight and make a huge mess.

Ukrainian clown troupe Mimirichi's new show Paper World features all the elements audience would expect, with four clowns juggling, miming and dancing on the stage. Photos: Courtesy of the troupe

This is perhaps the reason why the show is loved by audiences all over the world, as they can celebrate their lost childhoods.

"We are presenting tickets to childhood for everybody," said Sparinsky. "The thinking is that any adult wants to be a child. Not everybody can do it, but we can. We are inviting people to play in a funny common game."

He added that it is this aspect that makes the show popular with adults and children alike.

Igor Ivashchenko has been with the company since it was founded, and is one of the four clowns in the show. He said all the clowns in the show have distinctive characters that were developed through the rehearsal process.

Ivashchenko's role is like a bunch of paper - unpredictable, odd and thus funny.

"A little earlier, I played the role of the melancholic character Green Nose, which is now played by my son, Kiril," said Ivashchenko.

Ivashchenko has been a clown since graduating from one of the Kiev's circus colleges some 30 years ago.

He says he loves the job as much as he did on his first day, and enjoys the friendships he has built up with his fellow clown friends, some of whom have known him since he graduated.

"I like clowning very much," he said. "The four characters on the stage, believe it or not, are the same as we are in our lives. Our success has strengthened us. The stage is a wonderful school of life."

He added that he believes that clowning is not just an occupation, but a way of life.

He believes that working alongside some people for 30 years means that their relationship surpasses that of colleagues, and that they are old friends and partners. "It is possible only after many years of working together. We are oldies but goldies."

Date: December 5, 10:30 am, 3:30 pm

Venue: DaGuan Theatre

Address: 3/F, Zendai Himalayas Centre, No.1, Lane 1188 Fangdian Road 芳甸路1188弄1号证大喜马拉雅中心3楼

Tickets: 120 yuan ($18.79) to 380 yuan

Call 5887-1234 for details

Posted in: Metro Shanghai, Culture

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