[‘Enjoyment on the Border’ Theater Review by Byung-Wook Jang]
Theater Salad’s ‘Yeosu_Beginning Middle and the End’
Content and Formality Exposing Falsity of Present Koreans…'Stage of Revolts'
Theater Salad’s ‘Yeosu_ Beginning, Middle and the End’ realizing contemporaneousness of our times
A coexistence of proscenium –the wall that separates the stage from the auditorium- with Korean Madangkeuk * style in a performance! Under the guidance of staffs, the audience kept moving their places to watch the performance. ‘Yeosu_ Beginning, Middle and the End,’ a play which kept shifting the auditorium and stage following the phase of the story, was a stage of revolts. From its experiments in theatrical formality to its content exposing falsity of contemporary Koreans, the play raised objections to our habitual routines.
The audience endured inconvenience. At the request of the theater company, all the comfortable seats at Daehangno Arts Theater were folded up and pushed at the corner. The performance hall became a grand open ground. In addition, the audience had to take their shoes off. In other words, at the doors of the hall, the audience turned to funeral visitors ready to listen to the stories of the deceased souls by the fire at Yeosu Foreigners’ Detention Center in 2007.
“Soon we will start the press conference.” The announcement was the signal to start the performance. What made the audience alert was not only the fact that it was not the usual announcement ‘to turn off mobile phones.’ President of Multi-Cultural Family Counseling Center and a Korean-Chinese migrant worker who said she got swindled were on stage. The actual persons including those who experienced the fire reproduced press conference. Here at the conference where Chinese and Korean interpretations were exchanged, the audience met a new formality where theatrical stage embraces reality. Ms. Ahn Hyun-Sook, the actual president of counseling center, became tearful saying on behalf of the victims. “The injured migrants of the fire were forced out of their hospital without any notice about their Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in advance.”
Audience takes a calm attitude. What makes the play outstanding was not the appeal from its subject but its various experiments in formality. Following migrant workers on stage showed iron bars which contained them and electronic noises filled the hall throughout the performance. The stage was establishing contemporaneousness. The seemingly intended kitsch where a young lady wearing a miniskirt promotes Yeosu Exposition surely represented our portrait.
Kyongju Park (42) founded Theater Salad last year and debuted as a play writer and director with the performance. “I want to broaden my perspective and will continue to make another play dealing with problems of migrant women from critical point-of-view.” She was greatly encouraged by the achievement of the performance. The accomplishment was the results of a series of acting workshops prepared by Theater Salad for migrant actors and actresses for the past 1 year and 6 months.
The performance made the existing theatrical circles to reflect fiercely on their force of habits both in contents and formality and it showed how intense days the theater company had undergone in order to produce its own languages. The play, the official invitation work by the 12th Seoul Marginal Theater Festival, will meet its second audience in Uijeongbu this October in a more refined form.
*Madangkeuk : Madangkeuk is one of Korean theater styles which inherited and modernized its form from traditional performance. It is performed on an open ground and it has its characteristics of collectiveness and spontaneity of audience.