Setting the Stage

room blackboard

I changed jobs. Almost two years after starting at Goethe-Institut Seoul in late 2011, I got an offer to teach German at a high school. More concretely: give conversation classes. Two weeks before the first day after summer break, I got a first look at “Conversation Room No. 4” (회화실 4호), my future arena.

So far, the room is rather bare, with some traces of my predecessor. I tore of the poster on Germany and left the map. This place reminds me of Peter Brook’s famous “empty space”:

I can take an empty space and call it a bare stage. A man walks across this empty space whilst someone else is watching him, and this is all that is needed for an act of theatre to be engaged.

(Peter Brook, The Empty Space, Touchstone 1996 [1968], p. 9)

room TV

While walking across the room, I thought about what things I might do here in the following weeks, months, possibly years. Well, I guess I’ll speak a lot, after all this is about conversation. I’ll also try to remain silent when necessary.

Apart from that, there is not much I can do, I suppose. The audience has to fill out its active role in the autopoietic feedback-loop (Fischer-Lichte) that keeps the class going. I might bring some pictures, play some music, sing along, and ask the students to join me.

room full

I’m looking forward to this act to engage… Will it be deadly, holy, or rough theatre? I get money for my act, that’s for sure. I try my best to make that play as immediate as possible.

– 1 Aug. 2013 (木)


About Jan Creutzenberg

Jan Creutzenberg, friend of theatre, music, and cinema, comments on his performative experiences in Seoul and elsewhere.
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2 Responses to Setting the Stage

  1. Alexa Stroth says:

    Sehr geehrter Herr Creutzenberg,

    Ich bitte darum, ich bitte wirklich dringlichst darum, dass Sie sich bei mir in irgendeiner Form melden. Es muss nicht ausführlich sein. Aber ein Treffen — das würde mich wirklich sehr freuen. Und falls hier nun ein wenig Verzweiflung mitschwingt, dann … stört mich das auch nicht weiter.

    Mit freundlichen Grüssen.

  2. Dear Alexa,
    I apologize for my late reply — because of the new job (see above), I’m rather busy at the time being and I’m not sure when I can meet without being in a hurry.
    Anyway, if I understood correctly, you asked me about German-language performances. There are very few I know of and often — as in the case of the play “Momo” (which was a non-commercial student production that didn’t have a lot of marketing) — I hear about them last minute from friends or colleagues.
    Besides the regular events at the Goethe-Institut (for example, there is an interesting book presentation/lecture by Alexander Kneider this Friday,, which you know, there is not that much I can suggest now.
    There are some English-language theatre ensembles I know of, e.g. the Seoul Players ( or the Seoul Shakespeare Company ( — I missed their production of Hamlet this spring, unfortunately…
    If you are into traditional music, there are numerous concerts (many of them free) all the time, I suggest CedarBough Saeji’s list on her blog Footnotes ( or — in Korean — the weekly announcements at the magazine “Lara” (라라,, see the section “weekly preview Lara” on the homepage).
    That’s all I can tell you at the time — keep in touch!
    Best, Jan

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