Sunday, January 26, 2014

Korean Performances

I was incredibly excited to see my second Korean musical, December: The Unfinished Song, which happened to star one of K-pop's biggest stars, Kim Jun Su! I was sudo-fan girling, because I'm not going to pretend that I know anything about k-pop, but that boy can move his hips haha. My friend has been following his career very closely and was completely freaking out with the rest of the Korean peninsula when he appeared on stage. It was such a fun day.

The musical was good... I was pretty confused the entire time, though my friend and I pieced together the basic narrative afterwards. It wasn't just that it was all in Korean but that it was a crazy, Korean narrative, compete with flashbacks, flashforwards, and imagined memories - every angle was explored. It was a love story; there were these great outdoor balcony scenes (essential in any good love story) and scenes of school life, working in the office, street riots, drinking soju into the wee hours of the morning, and this fantastic army scene.

One of my favorite parts of the musical, three soldiers are goofing off as they patrol a fenced area. One of them moves forward as the other two lag behind, still laughing and joking. The first soldier calls back to the two jokesters, his tone different. I've seen The Hurt Locker enough times to prepare myself, but his shouts as his clueless friend carelessly treads forward coupled with the immediate explosion created a riveting, emotional moment. The special effects were amazing, the timing of the sounds and lighting spot on. And from the pitch black stage, a spot light appears as one of the soldiers, standing center stage, belts out this song that ends with this incredible high note. His voice fades as he falls backwards, the spot light stripping the stage of light seconds before he hits the ground. It was well done.

My experiences thus far in Korean theater is that it fittingly uses a lot of technology - video and artificial sound are prominent. Koreans love their screens, and the fact that the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts' theater seats are outfitted with small TV screens just reiterates that. Used throughout the December performance as year markers (that's how we figured all the time changes), the screens would flash on and off throughout the three-hour performance. I'm not sure I liked it, but it was an interesting aspect of the show.

On stage, too, video was projected, showing the silhouettes of the lovers dissolving into flying birds and so on. The first musical I saw in Korea, The Hunchback of Notre Dame: The Musical, was supported by a computerized orchestra and the Cookin' Nanta show I went to, though excellent, disappointed me a smidge with the overwhelming use of electronic medleys when they were drumming.

It's all so Korean -- I love it, truly. The flashiness, over-stimulation, and utilization of technology speaks to the earnestness and perfection that define Korean work ethic. And it makes for performances are that uniquely different from any I've ever seen before. There is a style and knack, or art, for putting on a show that I absolutely respect and continuously crave to see more of.

No comments:

Post a Comment