In 1968, he set up a studio first and then his Litsedei Theatre, which very soon became known all over the country and later all over the world. It was the first theatre of clowns, it was a breakthrough, thanks to which the art of clowning went beyond the circus ring.
The Litsedei worked till 1991, when Polunin closed his theatre down, first under Lenconcert, then as a part of the Circus on Stage association, but very soon, the theatre became completely independent and the first self-sufficient theatre in the country. In 1991–1993 Polunin set up the Academy of Fools — cultural center in Moscow and Leningrad, which started reviving carnival traditions in Russia and held big festivals and holiday events.
From 1993 to 1995, Slava Polunin worked in Cirque du Soleil, where he not only took part in performances as an actor, but also created characters and clown’s acts in the Alegria program. All the following years Cirque du Soleil regularly invited and still invites Polunin’s students as clowns to its programs.
Starting from 1996, Polunin toured all over the world with his now famous Snow Show, which, in the opinion of mass media, became "the theatre classics". In addition to performances on stage, Polunin actively works in the street theatre field, where he brought into life a number of giant internationally important projects. They were the Caravan of Peace — festival of street theatres, which traveled all over Europe, the World Theatres on Squares program as a part of the Third World Theatre Olympics in Moscow, the White Carnival project, presented in Moscow and St. Petersburg as one whole performance, created by actors from various countries jointly with their spectators. Slava Polunin was given a lot of prestigious awards in various countries of the world for his services in development of the art of clowning and street theatre. He is a prizewinner of the Laurence Olivier Award and independent Russian Triumph Award, People’s Actor of Russia; he was awarded the Order of Friendship of the Russian Federation and made a Chevallier dans l’ordre des arts et des lettres by the Republic of France. However, he cherishes 3 of his titles most of all: President of the Academy of Fools, Hans Christian Andersen’s envoy to Russia and the King of St. Petersburg Carnival.