Daehangno Poster Session 3

I went to Daehangno in a long while. Rushing out of the subway, I took the occasion to make some pictures of current theatre posters that caught my eye. Here is my top-5, with official English titles in italics and, in their absence, my translations in quotation marks.

The posters link to a new tumblr-blog, an experimental annex to this blog that I recently started. I try to put up all performances I’d like to see (but probably won’t be able to), together with the necessary information to make reservations. Please fell free to comment on performances you attended, or post pictures or videos you took, as well as links to relevant reviews etc.!

1. Yeonsan the Tyrant (문제적 인간 연산) INFO

Yeonsan the Tyrant (c) National Theatre Company

Yeonsan the Tyrant (c) National Theatre Company

The piece I am currently most eager to see – Lee Jaram (이자람) in a major theatre role after her intermezzo in Danton’s Death (Seoul Arts Center, 2013). Lee Youn-taek (이윤택) directs his own classic piece, the second revival after its 1995 premiere (the first one took place in 2003, over a decade ago). I knew the title from a small German book with three of Lee Youn-taek’s plays in translation and am looking forward to see Lee Jaram’s contribution to the historic play about the “problematic person” Yeonsan. This historical king from the Joseon Dynasty also plays also an important role in the movie King and the Clown (왕의 남자, 2005).

2. “We Are Friends” (우리는 친구다, German original: Max und Milli) INFO

"We Are Friends" (c) Ensemble Hakchŏn

“We Are Friends” (c) Ensemble Hakchŏn

A production of the German children’s musical, directed by legendary Kim Min-gi (김민기) who also made the Korean version of Subway Line 1 (지하철 1호선, German original: Linie 1), a veritable evergreen hit. In 2011, when I had just started working at the Goethe-Institut, I translated Kim Min-gi’s obituary for his friend Birger Heymann, composer of the music featured in this and other pieces (the text seems to have been taken offline, unfortunately). I remember that it was quite difficult to find out the equivalent German titles of the many pieces by Heymann that Kim Min-gi mentioned in his text, of course in their Korean version. Several of them were adapted to fit the Korean context, most notably Spaghetti mit Ketchup, which turned into “Ricecake with Chilli Sauce” (고추장 떡볶이).

3. The Lost Tears in Hamlet (망루의 햄릿) INFO

The Lost Tears in Hamlet (c) 극단 성북동비둘기

The Lost Tears in Hamlet (c) 극단 성북동비둘기

I couldn’t see this political actualization of Shakespeare’s classic, eventually, but the poster struck a chord with me. Finding the right moment to take a picture of the cleaning crew working on the monumental Yi Sun-sin (이순신) statue in central Seoul surely wasn’t easy, but the symbolic power of this image is striking!

4. Seoul Marginal Theatre Festival 2015 (제17회 서울 변방 연극제) INFO

Seoul Marginal Theatre Festival 2015 (c) 서울변방연극제

Seoul Marginal Theatre Festival 2015 (c) 서울변방연극제

Among the many large and small theatre festivals in Seoul and surroundings, this certainly takes the prize for the most eye-catching poster—on a series of handouts, the subject of marginality is developed a bit further. I haven’t attended this festival in the last years, but maybe there will be a chance this summer?

5. “The Hangang Flows” (한강은 흐른다) INFO

The Hangang Flows (c) Dongnang Repertory

The Hangang Flows (c) Dongnang Repertory

Among the fancy posters all over Daehangno, this one sticks out with its unapologetic old-fashioned style. The play announced here has in fact a quite long pedigree—the title sounded vaguely familiar and some googling brought up some more information. Written by early theatre activist Yu Chi-jin (유치진) and originally premiered in 1958, the director of this new production of the piece is Oh Tae-suk (오태석), besides Lee Yun-taek maybe the internationally most acclaimed Korean theatre director today. The venue, the Namsan Drama Center (남산 드라마센터), is also quite well-known, although it has become a bit quiet in recent times. Here, Oh Tae-suk and others experimented with avant-garde theatre involving traditional arts in the 1970s. Their ensemble back then, Dongnang Repertory (동랑 레퍼터리 극단, Dongnang was founder Yu Chi-jin’s pen-name), is noted as the producing company, although I am not sure about the historical continuity here.

Two of the productions have already finished their run (3+4), maybe you have seen one of them? Or you got interested to see one of the others or attend one of the many performances shown at the Marginal Theatre Festival? Feel free to leave a comment!

– 25 June 2015 (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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