A Tale of Two Hamlets: Taroo’s “Pansori Hamlet Project” and Tuida’s “Hamlet Cantabile”

Hamlet, once again! My double review of two Korean productions has just been published in the online journal Borrowers and Lenders.

Pansori Hamlet Project © Taroo

Pansori Hamlet Project © Taroo

I have been intrigued by Taroo’s ongoing “Pansori Hamlet Project” (국악뮤지컬집단 타루, 판소리 햄릿 프로젝트) for quite a while, from the first showcase at Doosan Art Center, through a second one at Seoul Theater Center, to the final production that, with each revival, is slightly revised and refined. The pansori singers of Taroo, together with guest actors, attempt to relate to Shakespeare’s classic from a decidedly contemporary perspective, paradoxically?, with the singing-storytelling art of pansori.

In contrast, I have seen Tuida’s “Hamlet Cantabile” (공연창작집단 뛰다, 노래하듯이 햄릿), which likewise boasts an impressive performance history (since its premiere in 2005), only one time, at Tuida’s home in rural Gangwon-do last year. Changing between hilarious and somber, this production employs Korean tradition much less obviously and draws on other performing arts as well, such as commedia dell’arte. Nevertheless, in a more mystique, grotesque, sometimes ecstatic way, “Hamlet Cantabile” likewise presents a new perspective on the seemingly indestructible drama.

See my review, including many images of both productions, online or read it (without the pictures) as a PDF-file. Thank you to Christy Desmet for suggesting “Hamlet Cantabile” to me and for commissioning this review!

Hamlet Cantabile © Tuida

Hamlet Cantabile © Tuida

– 27 June 2016 (月)

  • Jan Creutzenberg, “Hamlet Redux: Two Korean Productions that Re-stage Shakespeare’s Play between Tradition and Today”, Borrowers and Lenders: The Journal of Shakespeare and Appropriation X.1 (spring/summer 2016), eds. Maurizio Calbi and Stephen O’Neill, available online.

About Jan Creutzenberg

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