어린이의 어린이에 의한 어린이를 위한 극단서울
|She, good Seoul|
Time Out Bangalore
She, good Seoul
Korea’s largest English theatre outfit for kids is bringing their country’s most famous love story here, says Bryan Richard.
It’s the Korean Romeo and Juliet, minus the sad ending. The folktale of Chunhyangga is one of five surviving stories told in the panchori tradition (a genre of Korean music that consists only of vocal and percussion elements). Though traditional sources of the tale go back several centuries, its present form is thought to have been the work of panchori exponent Shin Jae-Hyo from the 1870s. And now thanks to Theatre Seoul, Bangaloreans have an opportunity to push their dalliance with things Korean, past Samsung gizmos or some kimchi at Hae Kum Gang.
The group (also the country’s largest English theatre outfit for children) is the first Korean theatre company to be officially invited to India’s international Children’s Theatre Festival held by the National School of Drama. “Inko Centre and Ranga Shankara invited us to perform in Bangalore, and we are really excited about being there. It will be our first performance in India,” said Natia Lee, chief planner of Theatre Soul over email.
Choon-Hyang (True Love), their stage adaptation of the folktale casts 19 actors between the ages of nine and 18 and has already found success in festivals and stages in New York, Edinburgh, Shanghai and Singapore. “In addition to the traditional panchori genre, we tried to create a fusion musical which harmonises the past and future of both eastern and western cultures,” said Lee.
As the story goes, Choon-Hyang is the daughter of a poor widow in the southern provincial town of Namwon, who meets and falls in love with Lee Mong-Ryong, a son of a noble family. But their flowering romance is rudely interrupted when he has to leave with his father who is transferred to an official position in Hanyang (now Seoul). Shortly thereafter, Choon-Hyang’s town gets a new governor, a lecherous lout at that. On hearing about Choon-Hyang’s beauty, he attempts to make her his concubine. But Choon-Hyang who is still in love with Lee Mong-Ryong, stubbornly denies him. Her defiance leads to imprisonment and before long it becomes apparent that the governor intends to kill her on his birthday. But just when Choon-Hyang seems destined to a tragic end, love comes to her rescue.
“A love story has universal appeal and that it is in English should make it quite easy for foreign audiences to enjoy this traditional tale,” Lee said. “It’s a story of trusting and waiting. Perhaps the key difference between Choon-Hyang and Romeo and Juliet is that the characters in the former, suffer separation but continue to wait, never failing to believe in the triumph of each other’s love over immediate circumstances. The idea that true love is nurtured and evidenced through trust and endurance is an essential Korean cultural value that contrasts itself rather starkly from some of our modern notions,” she added.
But traditional Korean music and love story apart, there’s another reason Choon-Hyang might be an interesting watch. All costumes in the play are made of a special Korean paper called hanji derived from the mulberry tree and renowned for its elasticity and strength (individual hanji fibres are about 17 mm in length, to the 1-2 mm of ordinary paper).
“Using hanji paper to create our costumes was a very special choice. When designing our costumes, we considered performing overseas and wanted to include as much Korean character in the musical as we could. Hanji paper possesses a subdued yet magnificent colour tone which assumes a magical hue under stage lighting,” she elaborated.
So what does she hope audience will be able to experience at the show? “I think the fact that the entire production is carried by children allows for a peculiar empathy with the characters and the musical itself. Of course we want to give foreign audiences a chance to experience Korean culture. But we also hope they will be appreciative of the fact that these kids are so enthusiastic about theatre and are transcending their own cultural boundaries by performing in a foreign language,” she said.
Source : Time Out Bengaluru ISSUE 9 Friday, November 14, 2008