#Metoo in the Korean Theatre World: The Case of Director Lee Yun-taek

Heartbreaking, angry-making news in the Korean theatre world… Too early to give a meaningful comment, yet hopefully not to late to show my solidarity and spread the word.

This is my brief summary of what I read in the news during the last days and hours.

Theatre director Lee Yun-taek (이윤택, well known outside of Korea, too) has been accused of sexual harassment (성추행) and sexual violence (성폭행). Since February 14, numerous testimonies by victims have been circulated with the #metoo hashtag on social media, suggesting a systematic abuse of young members of Ensemble “Georipae” (연희단거리패, formerly known internationally as “Street Theatre Troup”) for almost two decades, including rape. One common method appears to have been calling actors to his room and demanding massages at night-time hours.

Ensemble “Georipae” quoted Lee, saying that he would “reflect on his past mistakes and put everything down” (Feb. 14) and announced his resignation as director of Ensemble “Georipae” as well as of his theatres Studio 30 and the Miryang Theatre Village. Furthermore, an official apology on behalf of the ensemble was issued via Facebook (Feb. 15). Many criticised these reactions as “indirect”, demanding a concrete public apology by himself. Today (Feb. 19th), Lee gave a press conference at Studio 30, where he apologised, admitting the accusation of sexual harassment, while denying allegations of rape. He said he will face the legal consequences of his crimes. (video of the press conference, some quotes and an official statement at Pressian) Directly after the press conference, the disbanding of Ensemble “Georipae” was announced by its current head, Kim So-hui.

Meanwhile, more testimonies are being posted and a presidential petition that demands a thorough investigation of the allegations has been signed by over 25,000 persons in less than two days. The Korean Playwrights Association (한국극작가협회) expelled Lee and other organisations followed. The critic collective Sisun (연극비평집단 시선) has posted a statement and the Korean Association of Women in Theatre (한국여성연극협회, my translation) published a list of demands, including the annulation of prizes and proper legal procedures.

Besides Lee Yun-taek, recently other internationally acknowledged artists are facing accusations of sexual abuse, most prominently filmmaker Kim Ki-duk (who just rejected allegations by an actress) and poet Ko Un (see an overview at Korea JoongAng Daily.

As a scholar of theatre who wrote about Lee’s work (also on this blog), enjoyed his performances, and met him personally on several occasions, I don’t know how to respond. I sincerely hope that the victims – whose courage is admirable – find justice and peace of mind, knowing that their call to action helps prevent further violence and humiliation. Sexual violence and the power structures that make abuse possible are a huge problem, not only in the theatre, not only in Korea, so much is clear.

A list of links to some of the developments in chronological order can be found (in Korean) at No-Cut-News.

After Lee’s press conference, several English language articles have been published:

These are a few links to the growing numbers of testimonies (in Korean), mostly on Facebook – please beware, the content is disturbing:

— 19 Feb. 2018 (月)

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Sound of (12 and more) Strings: In Memoriam Hwang Byungki

Hwang Byungki (황병기), eminent master of the Korean traditional zither gayageum, passed away on January 31, 2018 (via Yonhap). His influence on traditional Korean music in general, its promotion in the world, education and composition, North-South Korean relations is legion.

Just a few days ago, when I visited the ongoing exhibition “Jieum: Collection of Memories for Tomorrow” (지음 知音 시간의 흔적, 미래로 펼치다, through April 1st) that shows archival material on the history of the National Gugak Center, I saw a video of Hwang presenting modified traditional instruments (on display), which he had brought back from North-Korea in 1990 (at least that’s what I assume) when he travelled there to participate in the Pan-Korean Unification Concerts (범민족통일음악회), organized by Isang Yun.

I saw Hwang Byungki perform live only once, at a concert honouring his 50th stage anniversary back in 2010. This is a view from the third floor of the concert hall at Seoul Arts Center:

The tribute performances were mostly played by his disciples, friends, and colleagues, Hwang himself only appeared on stage for the last act, leaving me wordless. At the curtain call, he humbly bowed with the others, but the applause was obviously all his.

I didn’t dare to approach him in the lobby, where he received presents and signed books after the concert.

What follows are some unedited notes on this performance (details below) that I wrote in 2010 but never published on this blog.

For more on Hwang Byungki’s life and legacy, see Jocelyn Clark’s obituary for Asia Times and an interview by Graham Reid (Elsewhere Blog), for a more academic take, read Andrew Killick’s recent book Hwang Byungki: Traditional Music and the Contemporary Composer in the Republic of Korea (Routledge, 2013), published in Korean translation as <황병기 연구> (풀빛 2015, 옮김: 김희선).

May he rest in peace.

***

Hwang Byungki’s Voyage of Sounds: Melody and Story (via SAC)

The man is a legend: Master of the gayageum (Korean 12-stringed zither), inventor of new instruments, composer of fusion gugak. To celebrate the 50th stage anniversary of Hwang Byungki (황병기),  already in his mid seventies, friends and fans gathered in the huge concert hall of Seoul Arts Center to perform and enjoy some pieces from Hwang’s most diverse œuvre.

Entitled “Hwang Byungki’s Voyage of Sounds: Melody and Story” (황병기의 소리여행 ‘가락 그리로 이야기’), this afternoon program offered a lot, both to novices like me who got introduced to his most representative pieces and the more experienced friends of traditional Korean music who could re-experience these classics in a new way.

Because contrary to my expectations (and to those of the friend who had invited me, a long time fan), this was not a concert by Hwang himself. While the master added some personal notes in between pieces (invisible to us), students and companions presented his music in new, sometimes very personal interpretations:

1. “Overture: Hwang Byungki’s Fifty Year Voyage of Sound” – 서곡 (序曲) 황병기의 50년 소리여행, a collage of “motives from the master’s works, selected and put on stage in order to associate his colorful world of compositions” (program notes). First, a daegeum player in a white dress – Chung Eun Han (한충은) – appeared in the ranks on the opposite side of the auditorium.

After the introductory melody, the stage lightens up—and there is a lot going on:  Spare rhythms on the piano (강상구, also responsible for the arrangement) and the hourglass-shaped janggu (윤호세) lay the ground for Yi Ji Young (이지영, who, according to Fincher-Sung, “represents the quintessential Korean musician of the twenty-first century […:] respectful of traditional parameters, and both daring and talented enough to stretch these parameters”) who, hidden under a long cloak, consecutively played four different gayageums.

Meanwhile, a group of male and female dancers in respective hanboks presented a lofty choreography of well synchronized turns and abrupt glides which, seen from the third floor, looked pretty ornamental. Of the action painting, performed by calligraphist Kim Gi-sang (김기상), I saw only the result: the title of the show (and this piece) painted in black letters on a paravent in the background.

(video of the opening hommage, uploaded by Chung Eun Han, via Youtube)

2. “The Haunted Tree” (1979) – 영목 (靈木), “…based on the uncertainly composed motive of a spirit dwelling in a tree, the surreal world constituted by mysterious melodies, constantly changing rhythm, dispersing discords etc. grabs [the audience’s] attention…” (program notes) This composition for gayageumajaeng (a bowed zither), jing-gong, piano, and percussion was performed by members of the Ensemble Sinawi (앙상블 시나위), named after the improvised music traditionally accompanying shaman rituals.

3. “Forest” (1962) – 숲, one of Hwang’s earliest—and most well-known—works that experimentally tries to harmonize the formalism of court music and the humor of folk music. In its original form, “Forest” is a piece for gayageum (here a recent performance by twelve musicians at the National Gugak Center, formerly known as the National Center for Korean Traditional Performing Arts).

This time, Japanese virtuoso Kazuhito Yamashita (山下和仁), together with his daughter Kanahi, performed his re-interpretation for two guitars. Yamashita gained world-wide (and controversial) fame not only for his graceful and precise play (deemed as superficial by others), he has also “made a career of annexing orchestral classics to his kingdom of the guitar” (Jeff Magee in the Ann Arbor News, qtd. in Yamashita’s biographical entry at musicianguide.com). Guitar player or typewriter—the rather calm duet made a nice contrast to the other more voluminous performances.

4. “Moon of My Hometown” (1976) – 고양의 달, adds music to the local colors of the poetry by PARK Mok Wol (박목월 / 朴木月, 1916–78). In fact, sung by the GANG Gweon-sun (강권순), Important Intantible Cultural Asset in female gagok (중요무형문화재, 여창가곡), the lyrics seemed subordinate to the voice, stretching endlessly in a very sublime, calm, and constant way that sounded more instrumental than vocal. This ‘instrumental’ voice interacted interestingly both with the blown daegeum and the bowed ajaeng, played by members of the gugak ensemble Dasrum (다스름, featured on this blog).

5. “Mountain Echo” (1979) – 산운 (山韻), likewise based on poetry, in this case the gasa (가사, a form of classical Korean poetry) Seongsan Byeolgok (성산별곡 / 星山別曲, lit. “Song of the Star Mountain”) by famous Choseon statesman-cum-poet Jeong Cheol (정철, 1536–93), also known under his pen name Songgang (송강). If you want to walk along his trails—here is how it’s done.

The ensemble Bebeing (비빙 / 悲憑), all dressed in green, presented this piece as a collaborative work, all four musician (piri, daegeum, gayageum, percussion) providing the ongoing basic rhythm and—successively, from time to time, including a singer—stepping out to add a solo melody. Kind of like a jam session. This seems to reflect the groups experimental approach to music, integrating traditional music practice, avant-garde composition, electronic sound engineering, and visual art. Take a look at a video of their “Buddhist music project Li and Sa” (불교음악프로잭트 이(理)와 사(事), 2008, lit. “reason and affection”, two principles complementary related in Buddhism, more info here).

6. “Hamadan” (2000) – 하마단, once again inspired by poetry, one the one hand by Buddhist writer Hyeon-dam’s (현담) eponimous poem that relates to the Persian city of the same name (همدان), on the other by the works of Kwak Jae-gu (곽재구, 1954–) which can be categorized as lyrical minjung poetry. Instead of the original solo ‘gayageum, accompanied by changgo’-arrangement, here three quarters of the gayageum ensemble Yeoul (여울) perform this as a trio, very in-sync with occasional melodies breaking out of the flowing sound of strings.

7. “Labyrinth” (1975) – 미궁 (迷宮), the highlight of this afternoon. One of Hwang’s most notorious works, “Labyrinth” is said to bring certain doom to the listener. The composer’s comment: “Of course you’ll die after listening to this piece, about 80 years later.” This re-interpretation by Baek Hyeon-jin 백현진 and Jang Yeong-gyu (장영규), members of the underground-avantgarde-band Uhuhboo Project (어어부 프로젝트), included the recitation from countless books that were dropped on the floor after a few phrases each, an electric guitar, and the slow-motion topless walk across the stage by dancer Ahn Eun Me (안은미).

8. “Darha Nopigom” (1996) – 달하 노피곰

— 4 Dec. 2010 (土) / 31 Jan. 2018 (水)

  • Hwang Byungki’s Voyage of Sounds: Melody and Story, Seoul Arts Center, Concert Hall, 2010-12-04 (Sat.), 14–15.30 h.
  • 황병기의 소리여행 ‘가락 그리고 이야기’, 예술의 전당, 콘서트홀, 2010년 12월 4일 (토), 14시~15.30시까지.
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Still Moving: Impressions from the Pink Factory Exhibition Opening 2017

This memory protocol (also available in Korean) is a preview from the 2017 catalogue of Pink Factory (분홍공장), which is currently in print and will be available in January 2018. Once again, resident artists from Korea and abroad created wonderful works of art in Hongcheon, Gangwon-do. The exhibition opened on Sept. 9 with several performances: Lee Seiseung’s choreography “To Be and Not to Be,” performed by Anima Singh (안무: 이세승, 출연: 어니마 싱), and Hur Yunkyung’s piece “Implicitly Anywhere” (허윤경, 은근어디든) , both in front and partly inside Hongcheon Art Museum, followed by dinner and Koh San Hong’s DJ Party “Geumsung Record” (고산홍, 금성 레코드) uphill at Pink Factory. Once again bi-lingual (Korean-English) and in full color, Pink Factory’s 2017 catalogue includes all artworks on show, impressions from the workshops and lectures given in the course of the residency program, as well as writings and images from the exhibition “Moving Shadows” and the community program “Floating Ferry, Buzzing Market” (둥실둥실 나룻배, 와글와글 중앙시장) that was conducted in parallel.

Still Moving

Impressions from the Pink Factory Exhibition Opening 2017

Leaving the museum, we slowly turn around. On top of the balustrade, Hur Yunkyung captures our attention, appropriates the whole place, but her time has not come yet.

Hur Yunkyung, on Hongcheon Art Museum

A woman in white, Anima Singh, steps up the stairs. She brings along a white pillar of her own size, hollow but certainly no light luggage. The empty pedestal follows her, supports her, wears her down, almost crushes her, and together they draw long shadows across the parking. ‘Who’s there,’ she whispers. To be and not to be? A question of perspective.

No time to ponder the relativity of time and space, as a green spot approaches, from the mountains, up a tree, through the gutter into the museum. Hur Yunkyung is back – and already gone again. But she returns, guides us through steel and water, past the camouflaged cabin, like a dog in search for answers written on the wall, between the steady beats of a drum, to dark, blue water dripping on paper, the crack growing wider as she navigates the crowd, within and without. We then go different ways.

Choreographed by Lee Seiseung, Anima Singh projected a life in motion onto the parking space. Hur Yunkyung mapped the museum and showed us its invisible core just by moving. Now the stage is set for the DJ! Koh San Hong plays songs from Seattle to Shibuya, mixed with sounds of steel and beats that grip our pulses together. We eat and dance and talk and drink, standing, sitting, still in motion. Do urbanites dream of star-spangled skies? The shadows have long moved, the night can come, even to Hongcheon.

Text: Jan Creutzenberg

— 9 Sept. 2017 (土)

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[Still Moving: Impressions from the Pink Factory Exhibition Opening 2017] 여전한 이동: 분홍공장 2017 국제전에 대한 몇 가지의 인상들

This is the Korean version of my impressions from the 2017 Pink Factory (분홍공장) exhibition opening on Sept. 9. This text, as well as many others in Korean and English can be found in the 2017 Catalogue of Pink Factory. See also my impressions from the 2015 Pink Factory exhibition (Korean version) on this blog.

이 기록글은 2017년 연말에 출판될 홍천 지역문화 공간 “분홍공장”(Pink Factory)의 2017년 카톨록의 “미리보기”입니다. 분홍공장 레지던스 프로그램의 국내외 거주 예술가들 10명은 멋있고 현장성이 강한 작품들을 많이 제작했는데 (그림, 사진, 설치, 사운드, 동영상 등) 이 글은 “이동하는 그림자”라는 전시의 오프닝 퍼포먼스들을 중심으로 쓴 것입니다. 9월9일 오후에 먼저 전시장소인 홍천미술관 앞에서 이세승의 안무로 무용가 어니마 싱은 “To Be and Not to Be”를 공연했으며 그후에 안무가 겸 무용가 허윤경은 “은근어디든”라는 작품을 미술관 안과 밖에 보여줬습니다. 그리고 분홍공장으로 옮겨서 뒤풀이를 하면서 고산홍 작가는 “금성 레코드”라는  DJ 파티를 진행했습니다.  분홍공장의 2017년 카탈록은 레지던스 중에 제작되고 전시된 작품, 워크숍과 강연에 대한 기록, 그리고 전시 “이동하는 그림자”와 동시에 홍천중앙시장에서 진행된 커뮤니티 프로그램 “둥실둥실 나룻배, 와글와글 중앙시장”에 대한 글들이 포함될겁니다 (한국어/영어; 전면컬러).

(이 글의영어 원고, 그리고 2015년의 분홍공장 전시에 대한 인상들(한국어/영어)도 이 블로그에서 읽을 수 있습니다.)

 

여전한 이동

분홍공장 2017 국제전에 대한 몇 가지의 인상들

미술관을 나와 우리는 천천히 뒤를 돌아보았다. 안무가 및 무용가인 허윤경은 미술관 2층 난간에 앉아 우리의 주목을 집중시켰는데 아직 허윤경의 퍼포먼스 시간은 아니었다.

Hur Yunkyung, on Hongcheon Art Museum

백색의 옷을 입고 있는 여자, 즉 퍼포머 어니마 싱은 계단을 올라온다. 자신의 크기와 비슷한 흰색 기둥과 함께 온다. 속이 비어있지만 가벼운 수하물도 아닌 이 도구는 그녀를 따라가고, 버티고, 약화시키고, 거의 뭉개면서 미술관 앞 주차장에 긴 그림자를 그린다. ‘누구세요’라고 작은 목소리로 말한다. 햄릿에서처럼 있으면서 없는 것은 바로 문제다. 이것은 관점의 문제 아닌가.

공간과 시간의 상대성을 숙고할 시간이 없다. 녹색 반점이 먼 산속에서 가까워지고, 나무 위로 올라가고, 미술관으로 들어간다. 허윤경이 다녀왔구나. 그리고 이미 다시 갔다. 그리고 그녀는 돌아와서 우리에게 철과 물로 안내한다. 우리는 위장된 객실을 지나서 강아지처럼 벽에 쓰인 답을 찾으며 어떤 드럼의 리듬을 들으면서 종이에 뚝뚝 흐르는 어두우면서 푸른 물로 간다. 허윤경은 안과 밖에서 군중을 항해하면서 그 틈이 커진다. 우리는 다른 길로 걸어간다.

주차장에서 이세승의 안무로 이동의 삶을 재현한 어니마 싱, 미술관 매핑을 통해 보이지 않는 중심을 움직임(이동)으로만 표현한 혀윤경 이후에 이제 DJ 고산홍의 등장이다.

시부야부터 시애틀까지의 음악, 멈춘 강철의 소리, 그리고 우리의 맥박을 붙잡는 울림이 들려온다. 우리는 밥도 먹으며 춤도 추고 이야기도 나누고 술도 마시고 서서 앉아서 여전히 이동 중이다. 도시인들은 별로 아로새겨진 하늘의 꿈을 꾸는가? 지금 홍천이라도 밤은 올 걸, 그림자들이 이동한 지 오래 되었으니.

글: 이안 코이츤베악 (Jan Creutzenberg)

— 9 Sept. 2017 (土)

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Daehangno Poster Session 7

Once again, my top five of theatre posters I saw in Daehangno. This time I happened to be in the theatre district on the occasion of meeting members of Theater Heidelberg. They were on a scouting mission to find interesting new plays for Heidelberger Stückemarkt, a theatre festival in Germany, where Korea will be guest country next spring.

Anyway, here are the posters, with my list below:

 

5. Bicycle by Oh Tae-seok

자전거, 국단 목화, 작, 연출: 오태석

Because it’s the revival of a Korean classic (from 1983), one of the few plays available in English, French, and German translation.

Arko Arts Theater (아르코예술극장소극장), 2017-10-20 ~ 29 Homepage

4. Mangwon-dong Brothers

망원동 브라더스

Because three years later (place 3 on my 2014-list) it’s still running (now on open run) – and because we’re still neighbors.

Art Space Hyehwa (예술공간 혜화), 2017-03-03 ~ Homepage

3. Othello, Jealousy is My Power by Performer Group Parandal

오셀로, 질투는 나의 힘, 퍼포머그룹 파란달

Because of the guerilla-style placement of this glossy poster that cries star power. The actor on the poster, Hyeong-il (김형일), plays the title role (double-cast with Hong Seong-min [홍성민]), with Choe Ye-yun (최예윤) as Desdemona and Kim Tae-rin (김태린), also the director, as Iago.

National Theater of Korea (국립극장 별오름극장), 2017-10-19 ~ 11-05 Interpark

Daehangno Star City (대학로 스타시티), 2017-12-15 ~ 31

2. Wandering Mother Courage by Theater Company SaniNeomeo

유랑 억척어멈, 극단 사니너머

Because it’s another adaptation of Brecht’s play with traditional elements. I got to see the production, finally, on the penultimate day. In Lee Yun-taek’s production (which I hope to see soon), Kim Mi-suk as Mother Courage sings pansori-style, and here it’s traditional puppetry.

Minsong Art Hall (민송아트홀 2관), 2017-11-17 ~ 26 Interpark

1. M. Butterfly by David Henry Hwang, directed by Kim Dong-yeon

엠.버터플라이, 작: 데이비드 헨리 황, 연출: 김동연

Because of the prospects of seeing this modern classic in a Korean context (so far, I only know Cronenberg’s film adaptation) – and the twist on old-school portrait posters. The cast seems to be different from an earlier 2012-production, though. In the meantime, Korean actor Jin Ha stars in a Broadway revival.

Art One Theater (아트원씨어터), 2017-09-09 ~ 12-03 Interpark

Out of Competition: The Wildfire

산불, 국립창극단

Because it sounds interesting – a theatre play produced as changgeuk (see my preview of the 2017–18 season at the National Theater) – but the poster looks completely bland.

National Theater of Korea (국립극장 해오름극장), 2017-10-25 ~ 29 Homepage

— 17 Oct. 2017 (火)

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Three Times Acting Different

This was an extended weekend of theatre: Watching others play different roles.

제45회 성신여자대학교 독어독문학과 학술제

The 45th Sungshin University German Language and Literature Academic Party Beauty and the Beast

On Thursday, our yearly “German Night” (독문인의 밤) at Sungshin University, where first-year students of German Language and Literature sing, dance, and perform – in German, of course. This is a bit different from the bi-yearly production of a German play, as the students prepare everything themselves and the play is usually shorter and more light-hearted. This year, they had selected Beauty and the Beast (Die Schöne und das Biest, aka 미녀와 야수 in Korean) – a great performance!

Then on Friday an audition for ensemble “Theaterraum” (테아터라움 – 철학하는 몸), where I sat in as a guest juror.

유랑 억척어멈, 극단 사니너머

Wandering Mother Courage by Theatre Company SaniNeomeo

And on Saturday, finally, in the theatre: Wandering Mother Courage (유랑 억척어멈), an adaptation of Brecht’s classic by Theater Company SaniNeomeo (극단 사니너머) in Daehangno.

In all three cases, people were playing roles – persons like Belle and Gaston, ad-hoc monologues of non-descript origin, or Mother Courage and her children – as well as themselves, in one way or another.

At the “German Night”, everyone knew everyone. For me, it was part of the fun seeing my students perform characters from a Disney movie in German, yet remaining distinctively themselves, complete with idiosyncrasies I knew from class. And it seemed that I was not alone in this regard.

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(Beauty and the Beast, performed by 1st year students of German Language and Literature at Sungshin University)

At the audition, too, it was not so much about the lines spoken and characters played, but about showcasing acting skills and professional flexibility, followed by a convincing self-performance in the interview that followed. As I didn’t know any of the auditors and might never see them again (or, sometime, on another stage), the potential rather than the familiar was central.

The theatre, then, was a mixed bag. A cast of various actors, young and old, some playing several roles, together giving a quite orthodox performance of the piece, despite the relocation to post-World-War-II-Korea. Not as “Brechtian” as I had expected, the acting was mostly naturalist, everyone fitting their clothes, so to say. Of course, during the curtain call the fourth wall was broken. You might be able to spot me applauding from the first row in this video:

(Video by Theatre Company SaniNeomeo, via Youtube)

Using a concept developed by Erika Fischer-Lichte as part of her aesthetics of the performative (“perceptive multistability”, in The Transformative Power of Performance, Routledge 2008), the difference between these three acts can be described in terms of switches between “perceptive orders”, in this case mostly between different semantic readings: Student A and the Beast; someone persuading her friend not to commit suicide (one of the improvisation tasks) and a young actor trying to get cast; Mother Courage and an experienced diva receiving her well-earned ovations while embracing the rest of the ensemble.

For an art like pansori, where a solo performer changes constantly between narration and acting, singing and speaking, playing and addressing the audience, mapping switches of perception might prove more productive. But it might also help to approach some of the charms of amateur theatre and the weirdness of auditions, especially when actors are not only cast for specific roles, but as potential members for ensemble work.

With Brecht, it’s of course a whole different story… more to come!

— 23–25 Nov. 2017 (木–土)

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Playing German in Korea: Students of Sungshin University Premiere “Thieves” by Dea Loher

Like in other countries, theatre plays an important part in Korean college life. Student productions of original language plays (Korean: woneo-[yeon]geuk 원어[연]극 原語[演]劇) in particular have fulfilled a major role in the transmission of foreign drama to Korea. For example, the first production of Shakespeare in Korea, Julius Caesar, was staged by students of Seoul Commercial College “in Elizabethan English” in 1925, followed productions of The Merchant of Venice (1929) and The Taming of the Shrew (1931) at the college that later became Ewha Womans University (see Joo-Hyon Kim, “Shakespeare In Korea”, Shakespeare Review 38.3 [2002]: 813–816, here: 814).

This year, the bi-annual German-language play at Sungshin University (where I teach) was Dea Loher’s Thieves (Diebe, Kor. 도둑들). After some classics by Brecht, Schnitzler, or Dürrenmatt (and an adaptation of Michael Ende’s Momo!), once again a contemporary play. Also, it was the Korean premiere. There had been [a guest performance by Deutsches Theater], where the piece had premiered in 2010 (LG Art Center, 2014), but this is the very first domestic production.

Unfortunately, I could not attend the final performance because I was at a conference that weekend. Nevertheless, what I saw at the rehearsals when helping with pronunciation was fabulous, creative and absolutely funny renderings of the odd characters that populate the play. The production was a great success, as I could later see on video, with wonderful acting, ironic scenes, and, of course, almost perfect German. I’m terribly proud!

(all rehearsal photos courtesy of Sungshin University, Department of German Language and Literature)

Based on my experiences during the production process, I wrote a short essay on “Playing German” from a pedagogical perspective. How does the experience of embodying characters who speak German, interacting in situations set in Germany, and struggling with the ambiguities of the episodic, sometimes grotesque plot of Thieves contribute to finding a way to appropriate a foreign language for oneself? I try to answer some of these questions (in German) in an essay which has been published in DaF-Szene Korea (the journal of Lektoren-Vereinigung Korea, the Association of [German-language] Lecturers in Korea) and is available online (PDF). For those interested in German-language college productions, there is another report on various projects at Incheon National University by Michael Menke (pp. 20–23).

— 17–18 March 2017 (金–土)

  • 제 22회 성신여자대학교 독문과 원어연극 “Diebe(도둑들)”, 원작: 데아 로허
    연출: 김정, 기획: 서민지, 출연 및 스탭: 성신여대 독어독문학과 전공생, 2017년 3월 17일 (오호 7시), 18일 (오후 2시, 7시), 성신여대 수정홀, 무료입장.

  • The 22nd Sungshin University German Language Original Play “Diebe” (Thieves) by Dea Loher, directed by Kim Jeong, production: Seo Minji, actors and staff: students of the German Language and Literature Department, performances on March 17 (7pm) and 18 (2pm, 7pm), Sungshin University, Sujeong Hall, entrance free.

  • Jan Creutzenberg, “‘Deutsch Spielen’ – Eine studentische Produktion von Dea Lohers Theaterstück ‘Diebe’ an der Sungshin University” (Playing German: A Student Production of Dea Loher’s Drama ‘Thieves’ at Sungshin University), DaF-Szene Korea 44 (May 2017). [full issue as PDF]

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