Best of Korean Theatre 2016 (part1): Official Rankings

As this crazy year draws to an end, as usual the best theatre productions in Korea have been selected and awards are handed out. Two of the most important selections are the “best 7” by the monthly journal Korean Theatre Review (월간 한국연극, “2016 공연 베스트 7”) and the “best 3” by the Association of Theatre Critics (한국연극평론가협회, “올해의 연극 베스트 3”). (Various press sources – the official websites are a bit late in this regard – can be found, for example at Munhwa News (문화뉴스), by using the following links: best 3, best 7)

The “best 7” considers all performances shown in the greater Seoul region between Nov. 2015 and Oct. 2016. In the category “premieres” (초연), four works were chosen:

  • Twelve Angry Men (12인의 성난 사람들) by Sansuyu Theatre (극단 산수유), directed by Ryu Ju-yeon (류주연) play by Reginald Rose
  • All the Soldiers are Pathetic (모든 군인은 불쌍하다) by Golmokil Theatre (극단 골목길), written and directed by Kunhyung Park (박근형), co-produced by Namsan Art Center (남산예술센터)
  • Bethany House (베서니 집) by Dong Theatre company (극단 동), directed by Ryang-Won Kang (강량원), play by Laura Marks
  • Sunshine Warriors (썬샤인의 전사들), a play by Kim Eun Sung (김은성), produced by Doosan Art Center (두산아트센터)

Additionally, productions in three other categories were awarded:

  • revival (재공연): “Camino de Ansan 2016” (안산순례길 2016), a multi-site-specific project in the city of Ansan, in memory of the victims of the “Sewol” ferry-disaster
  • children/young audience (아동 청소년극): We are Friends (우리는 친구다, original: Max und Milli, by Volker Ludwig) by Hakchŏn (극단 학전)
  • foreign production (해외공연): Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People (Ein Volksfeind, 민중의 적) by Schaubühne Berlin (샤우뷔네 베를린), director: Thomas Ostermeier, guest performance at LG Arts Center

For the “best 3”, all performances shown from Dec. 2015 until Nov. 2016 are eligbile. Two of the three also appear in the “best 7”:

  • All the Soldiers are Pathetic (모든 군인은 불쌍하다)
  • Bethany House (베서니 집)
  • Goebbel’s Theatre (괴벨스 극장) by ensemble Watchman (극단 파수꾼), directed by Yi Eun-jun (이은준), play by Oh Se-hyeok (오세혁)

Although aware of some of these productions, I wasn’t able to see any of them – besides teaching, wrapping up my dissertation kept me at the desk. I planned to see the guest performance of Ein Volksfeind, too, about which I had heard a lot, but then didn’t find the time, unfortunately. I would have loved to hear how the mid-play discussion among the audience developed. (Some videos – all in German, though – give an idea of the tour and include statements from the discussion: a mini-documentary, a videocast by actor David Ruland, and a report by Deutsche Welle.)

But being busy doesn’t mean that I didn’t spend a minute in the theatre. Follow up for some thoughts about my own top 5 or something, hopefully before the end of the year…

– 22 Dec. 2016 (木)

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About Jan Creutzenberg

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