Congratulations: Taroo’s Gugak Musical Among Top Seven Performances of 2013

월간 한국연극-2013-12호-©-한국연극협회 via Facebook

한국연극 12호 © 한국연극협회

I bought my monthly issue of The Korean Theatre Review (한국연극) early this December. I was surprised to see one of my favorite pansori ensembles, the Gugak Musical Collective Taroo (국악뮤지컬집단 타루) on the cover. As I skimmed through the magazine, I found out why: Taroo’s production “하얀 눈썹 호랑이” (“White Eyebrowed Tiger”, see a video clip) is listed among the “2013 Best Seven Performances” (2013 공연베스트7) as the best children theatre (via Facebook)!

Congratulations to Taroo! I’ve been a big fan of the ensemble since I saw one of their performances for the first time in early 2012: “Pansori, Wearing Rainboots” (판소리, 레인부츠를 신다) is a potpourri of short pieces where one of the ensemble members performs pansori in combination with another art or medium, such as modern dance, acting, or video.

하얀 눈썹 호랑이 © 국악뮤지컬집단 타루

하얀 눈썹 호랑이 © 국악뮤지컬집단 타루

I have written about their very different performances on various occasions. See, for example, my reviews of their revival events “Taroo Tradition Project” (타루 전통Project!), classical pansori pieces performed in a hanok backyard in Bukchon (blogpost and review in English and Korean), the wonderful gugak musical Unhyeon Palace Romance (운현궁 로맨스) about the forbidden love between a prince and a pansori singer (Korean review), and the work-in-progress Hamlet-project (Korean review) that is suppposed to premiere next spring.

운현궁 로맨스 © 국악뮤지컬집단 타루

운현궁 로맨스 © 국악뮤지컬집단 타루

Is Taroo’s nomination by a major theatre magazine an indication of a new trend—gugak getting more acknowledged in the world of theatre? I checked the December issues of 2012 and 2011 and couldn’t find another gugak-related production.

Browsing through older “Best 7”-lists reaching back to 2006 (tables of contents of earlier issues can be found, for example at the 대전전자도서관, even without registering), I found the choices generally rather “conservative”. Well-established ensembles such as Lee Yun-taek’s Street Theatre Troupe (연희단거리패) or Son Jin-chaek’s Michoo Theater Company (극단미추) are regulars. Therefore, the nomination of a young gugak ensemble seems quite revolutionary!

Taroo’s Tiger premiered in December 2011 in the local cultural center of Eunpyeong-gu (은평문화예술회관). I saw a short excerpt at a double-bill performance of “tradition-meets-newcomers” at Folk Theatre Pungnyu (민속극장 풍류) on July 13th, 2012, where Taroo shared the stage with master singer Kim Su-yeon (김수연). Although Taroo performed the Tiger on various occasions during the last two years, I didn’t have a chance to see the full production yet. Fortunately, there are upcoming performances in January 2014 (see below for details).

황금용 © HANPAC

황금용 © HANPAC

This year’s “Best 7” also includes The Golden Dragon (황금용, 연출: 윤광진). The piece by German playwright Roland Schimmelpfennig has been staged last spring in Daehangno, with translation support by the Goethe-Institut (that’s how I got my free ticket). I have written about the piece in an earlier blogpost.

Besides the Theatre Review’s “Best 7”, the other best-of list is the “This Year’s Theatre Best Three” (올해의 연극 베스트3) published in the quarterly The Korean Theatre Journal (연극평론, not available online, see a note in Hankyoreh). Once again, The Golden Dragon is listed.

나는 나의 아내다 © 두산아트센터

나는 나의 아내다 © 두산아트센터

Another production I personally liked a lot is among the Top 3: I Am My Own Wife (나는 나의 아내다), shown at Doosan Art Center last summer. I had coached actor Nam Myeong-nyeol (남명렬) for pronounciation, as the protagonist of this monodrama is German and occasionally throws in a line or two (see my short post on the rehearsals, there’s also a short clip of the piece performed by Nam’s double-cast Ji Hyeon-jun / 남현준 on Youtube).

A big “Congratulations!” to the actors, director Kang Yang won (강량원), dramaturg Kim Ki-ran (김기란), and the whole team. There will be a revival of I Am My Own Wife in December 2014, a great opportunity to once again see this hilarious and virtuous piece that tells the story of an extraordinary character on the background of recent German history.

– 3 Dec. 2013 (火)

  • 국악뮤지컬집단 타루의 <하얀 눈썹 호랑이>, 공연기간: 2014년 1월 6일 ~ 8일, 매일 오후 1시, 4시 (제10회 서울 아시테지 겨울축제), 공연장소: 대학로예술극장 소극장, 예술의전당 자유소극장, 관람료: 20,000원 (예매: Interpark)
  • Gugak Musical Collective Taroo, White Eyebrowed Tiger, on show from January 6th to 8th at 1 and 4 p.m. as part of the 10th ASSITEJ Korea Winter Festival, venue: Daehangno Arts Theatre (small stage), tickets at 20,000 Won (booking via Interpark)

About Jan Creutzenberg

Jan Creutzenberg, friend of theatre, music, and cinema, comments on his performative experiences in Seoul and elsewhere.
This entry was posted in Pansori, Spoken Drama, Upcoming Performance and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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