Vavi the clown and the second Karabakh war
Artist Vavi, resident of Yerevan, says that when, during the second Karabakh war (September 27-November 10, 2020), he applied to the military registration and enlistment office with a request to send him to the front as a volunteer, he was motivated by a desire to support the recruits – even though he got married just a few days before the war started.
A tall man with a face covered with a layer of white and black makeup, in a tailcoat, approaches passers-by and communicates with them without words, using a whistle. This is Vavi the clown.
He is 29 years old, he invented this persona himself, and during the conversation he emphasizes that this is the image, and not himself. A satirical, but at the same time sad, and sometimes even melancholic clown can often be seen on the streets of Yerevan. The unexpected sound of his whistle stops people, mostly children, draws them into play and participation in the performance.
He does not want to give his name and only told us one thing about himself – that he grew up in the village of Berkaber, bordering Azerbaijan, in the Tavush region. From an early age he decided that he would become an actor. When he grew up, he graduated from the Yerevan State Institute of Theater and Cinema.
He considers the art of the Russian clown Vyacheslav Polunin to be a source of inspiration for himself and he loves to discover new occupations. For example, he drives a taxi.
“People change and drop out of their everyday life when they see a clown driving. Sometimes they even jump for joy, applaud and want to take a picture with me. However, there are also those who are unhappy and even refuse to get into the car. But this happens less often”, says the artist.
When the war broke out on September 27, 2020 and he was taken to the front as a volunteer, he did not take Vavi with him. “But I still tried to support those who were there with me ․ We sang Armenian songs about the war”, says the artist.
He says he tried to protect his fellow soldiers because they were younger than him. But it was them who saved his life:
“Once I was so tired that I could not stand and lay down on some kind of mound. A few hundred meters from us, a shot was fired, and there was a strong explosion. I shouted for everyone to run and hide somewhere. They ran, and I could only crawl out of fatigue. And I crawled after them.
Two of our guys noticed it, ran up to me and picked me up. I shouted them to leave me, but they kept pulling me forward. We did not have time to run far away from this mound when a shell hit it directly”.
After the war, the clown Vavi returned to the streets of Yerevan. “When creating Vavi, I was guided by the words of William Saroyan: try to make this world a better place, each from their own place, to the best of their ability”, says the artist.
When asked what changed in his life after the war, or whether Vavi himself has changed, the actor replies:
“Of course he has. What was in him became more stable, and the roots became deeper. I got a chance for a second life, I have to do a lot of good now, which will justify that me not dying in this war. So many good things to do to justify one’s life”.