Through the Dream Forest to the Colonial Sherlock by Badaksori

Once more Sherlock, although this time his name is Hong…

Beware the Dream Forest! On my way to the ongoing Badaksori Festival (제1회 바닥소리극 페스티벌) at the Dream Forest Art Center (꿈의숲 아트센터) in Northern Seoul, I decided to take a walk for the last part and dropped of the bus right in front if the forest, just as night was falling. I should have known better: Within minutes, I was lost in the increasingly dark woods, scared off some innocent joggers, and made it to the performance five minutes late.

I could see the introductory narration of this Sherlock-pansori-theatre-piece (대한제국 명탐정 홍설록 only on the monitor in the lobby, before entering the auditorium and grabbing a seat in the last row. Three soldiers were marching on stage, members of the Independence Army, as the piece was set in the early years of the 20th century, during the Japanese colonial rule.The three soldiers’ ways parted, one became a doctor, another a high-ranking police officer, and the third dreamt of being a detective. The latter one was “Sherlock Hong”, the titular character of this unusual piece of sorigeuk. Together with “Watson”, his old army-friend doctor, he took on his first case, strange ghost sightings on Jeju Island.

대한제국 명탐정  홍셜록 ©  판소리 공장 바닥소리

대한제국 명탐정 홍셜록 © 판소리 공장 바닥소리

The performance switched between political period drama (the course of history projected on the stage backdrop), procedural drama, aery dance scenes by Jeju haenyeo (female sea divers), and a love story within a dream that culminated in a large scale (on-screen) explosion. Stylistically, it was a mixture of pansori-like singing, more-or-less musical songs, backed up by a fusion-band with daegeum, electric guitar, bass, keyboards, and percussion. Many details were unclear to me, still with good acting, particularly by An I-ho (안이호) as the main cast, and interesting set-ups, the performance could certainly entertain.

And there is more to come: This is supposed to be just the beginning of a three part series featuring Sherlock Hong. If course, the Badaksori Festival continues, too, with a pansori-version of The Diary of Anne Frank (안네의 일기, 판소리 하다, Sept. 23). Looking forward to that one, too. This time, I’ll take the bus straight through the forest, without any nightmarish

– 17 Sept. 2015 (목)

  • 판소라공장 바닥소리, 대한제국 명탐정 홍설록: 귀신테러사건, 극작: 최용석, 연출: 유기영, 작곡/음악감독: 김승진, 출연: 안이호, 김성환, 고영열, 신정혜, 정지혜, 지향희, 연주: 홍상진, 한창희, 설동호, 유수진, 윤영철, 꿈의숲 아트센터 퍼포먼스홀, 2015–09–17 (목), 오후 8–9.30시, 입장료: 6,000₩ (페스티벌 페키지).
  • Pansori Factory “Badaksori”, Great Korean Empire Detective Sherlock Hong: The Ghost Terror Incident, written by Choe Yong-seok, directed by Yu Gi-yeong, composition and musical direction: Kim Seung-jin, with An I-ho, Kim Seong-hwan, Go Yeong-yeol, Sin Jeong-hye, Jeong Ji-hye, Ji Hyang-hui, music performance by Hong Sang-jin, Han Chang-hui, Seol Dong-ho, Yu Su-jin, Yun Yeong-cheol, Dream Forest Art Center, Performance Hall, 2015–09–17 (Thu.), 8–9.30 pm, entrance fee: 6,000₩ (with festival pass).

About Jan Creutzenberg

Jan Creutzenberg, friend of theatre, music, and cinema, comments on his performative experiences in Seoul and elsewhere.
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