Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Korean theatre.. and the countdown begins!

6 am. My alarm goes off. I struggle to remember the weekend. I remember kids laughing and throwing water balloons in the park. I remember going to a Korean performance of Romeo and Juliet with an actor from NYC who speaks Korean fluently. I remember going out to an island in the Yellow Sea to watch Fanta Stick, a Stomp-style theatrical performance that sets an ancient Korean legend in a modern-day auto repair shop. After the show I hitched home and met with the Getting Past crew to take photos for the upcoming 100th post amidst surrealist statues of giant body parts and through mazes of stained glass. 

I found out about Fanta Stick from my Korean older sister, who secured five tickets for me and my friends. We had already gone two weeks' prior, and being the only foreigner in the building, I HAD to be publicly humiliated.

video by Han Jeongwon 2013

Fanta Stick was performed out at the Ariul Art Centre, which is stationed on Shinshi island, one of my favorite places to visit.
Who left me in charge of cupid's arrows?
Ahahaha, mischief time!

The location is gorgeous, the air smells fresh, and before hitting up the island, you can eat fresh fish at the harbour. To top it off, there's trick eye outside the centre.

A week earlier, I lured a group of foreigners to come see the play with the following description:

In Ancient Korea, there lived a loving couple whose hearts were so set on each other that nothing could come between them. Haneulnim, god of the sky, gave to yoja the flute daegum, and to namja a magic drum. Najma was absorbed in his practice of the drum and ignored his beloved. 

Angered, yoja cast away the drum. As a punishment for her rashness, she was dragged to the underworld and parted from her flute and her namja. She was told that if she wanted to see namja again she would have to find her flute to restore her form, for now she was but a ghost wandering through the underworld.

In a modern-day auto repair shop in Montana, yoja's flute was found by a witless mechanic who worked alongside the reincarnated namja. Yoja found the flute and was given back her human form. But the stewards of the underworld stole the flute away and enlisted namja to torture her with an excellent drum performance. He realized what he'd done, but it was too late. Yoja's body was lost again, and the two could not be reconciled.

Is this where the story ends? No, but I will not spoil the ending.

Little did my companions know, this was not the first play I'd seen this weekend. On Saturday after volunteering with the children of Jigokdong, I went to see a very Korean Romeo and Juliet. The play of course was the same kind of psychologically-incorrect, grossly caricaturized performance we get from community theatre back home. But this one involved musical numbers, short scenes of soft ballet and operatic singing, and a script so abridged it can hardly be called Shakespeare. I quite enjoyed it. My new friend from NYC, being quite fluent in Korean, commented after the show on how many liberties the cast took. Yeah, but it's charming. And it was free.

Oh-- and the photo shoot! After watching Fanta Stick on Sunday, two of us were picked up by a couple of ajashis in a sport utility vehicle. We practiced our Korean and I got home just in time for the Getting Past the White Tiger photo shoot. You see..........................

Young-Gun sez: I've got my eye on you.

That's right, we're gonna be here for YOU come the 100th post. Is there something you want to know about expat life? Do you have an idea for a blog topic? Are there any foods, cultural events, sporting events, activities or parts of South Korea you are interested in seeing on Getting Past the White Tiger?

Comment below, or send your questions/comments to joe.white.tiger@gmail.com.




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