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From Sinchon To Daehangno

A symbol of plays and small theaters is Daehangno. My sister graduated from a university in Sinchon. Sometimes, my family jokingly says to her, “You probably went to Daehangno much more than Sinchon, even though your university is in Sinchon.” However, in my view, that joke is not a joke. That is just true. My sister goes to Daehangno a lot. Some sharp-sighted readers might guess why she goes Daehangno a lot. Yes, she likes plays very much. The number of plays that I have seen with her is over 15, even though I do not like plays that much. There are a lot of booklets in her bookshelf. If you see them, you can be sure that my sister’s love with plays is special. Now, she wants to work in theater. I do not know why or, how she fell in love with plays even though she began to see plays seriously four years ago. Which points of plays make a person who likes math and science fall in love with plays?

Q. Hongik Tidings Please introduce yourself and tell me when you began to watch plays. Now let’s talk about plays. Which play did you see first?

A. Yeonji

Hello, my name is Heo Yeonji and I am 25 years old. In fact, I saw plays before about once a year with family and friends. It was in the second half of 2012 that I began to see plays a lot. I started my love of plays in that year and I still love them. So I want to work in the theater.

Honestly, I can’t remember which play I first saw. Because, as I said, I saw plays occasionally. So, the first play that I saw in the second half of 2012 was the musical ‘Sherlock Holmes’. That musical has many series. What I watched was ‘Musical Sherlock Holmes - Secret of The Anderson Family’. I forgot all my agonies for about two hours when I watched the musical. At that time, I had a lot of agonies about my university life. It is hard to adapt to the new university life and university life was very different from what I had thought before I attended. So, I went to watch a musical to see my favorite singer. The first purpose of watching the musical was just taking a rest. But when I watched it, I forgot all my agonies and thinking, even why I went to watch the musical. It was fresh and impressive. So, I hoped to see plays continually and a lot after watching ‘Musical Sherlock Holmes - Secret of The Anderson Family’.

Do you have any other motive to decide to see plays seriously except ‘Musical Sherlock Holmes - Secret of The Anderson Family’? What is one charm of plays?

Nothing special. I decided to see plays naturally. My love with plays began very quietly, gradually and naturally. There was no any special motive.

What is one charm of plays?

A play has different charm from a movie. A movie is played by video that was already recorded based on its script. Of course, a play has a script, too. However, in a play, there is an open background. The audience can see other actors or the background, even if that situation is focused on just one actor. Also, it is very attractive that something real is happening in front of my eyes. To sum up, the vivid image of a real situation is the point and charm of a play. Likewise, there is a huge difference between going and looking a concert directly and looking a recorded concert. In the case of a small theater, the distance between the actor and audience is very close. I can feel the effects, like the sounds, stage properties, and lighting more vividly. Also, a play is designed to be very detailed because it does not show what they want to show on a screen. So, I like to find and see these things.

There are many genres in a play. Can you explain them and do you have any play to recommend to us by genre?

It is very hard to classify a play’s genre. Because it is very ambiguous. If we classify a genre by a theater’s size, there is small theater, a middle- sized theater, and a big theater. A play’s scale can be different, depending on a theater’s size. Then, if we classify a genre by its contents, there are thrillers, dramas and romances like with novels. A play that was written by a famous playwright such as Shakespeare is a typical genre of a play that most people think of as a play. ‘Vishnyovyi sad’ and ‘Waiting for Godot’ are kinds of classical and typical genres of plays that have the image of a play that most people think of as plays. Except for these classical plays, there is an overseas license play that originated from foreign countries. Then we buy the license and translate it. It is easy to explain and understand these license plays in musicals. For example, the musicals ‘Cats’, ‘Les Miserables’ and ‘Jekyll & Hyde’ are famous licensed plays. Likewise, a play has license play like a musical does. In contrast, there is an original play that is created by Korean production crew. They produce a play from start to the end by just themselves. A famous original musical is ‘Those Days’. Especially the musical ‘Those Days’ was created from songs that were already released. This kind of musical is called a jukebox musical. Also, there is a performance play ‘NANTA’ that progresses with no dialogue. ‘NANTA’ is exported to foreign countries, so it is very successful case of an original play. It is very hard to recommend a play to other people. We can watch dramas or movies whenever we want because dramas and movies have their own video files. However, a play does not have its own video files. Because of this, it is very hard to see plays whenever we want to and the original purpose of a recommendation goes meaningless. Also, I cannot recommend a play very well, because I think a recommendation can force my thinking and preference onto other people.

Do you have any actors who do you like?

When I began to see plays in earnest, I had an actor who I liked. I watched a play to watch that actor and follow the actor’s play. When I started watching plays more and more, then I didn’t follow a specific actor, but rather I followed a production crew. So, I like the producer ‘Kim Kwang-bo’ and his production work. He produces many plays steadily. He started in a famous theater company, and now he is a head leader of the Seoul Metropolitan Theatre. His direction makes us concentrate on a play. There is a case that a play progresses loosely even if it is a same script. He produces a play that the audience can concentrate on easily. He produced a play named ‘I Was Punched for Sticking Out Slightly’ before. Its background is a country that divided and a prison that is placed on a dividing line. All of the events happen in the prison. The topic and message that the play wants to give could be felt very heavily and seriously. However, his direction makes the play give the topic and message not seriously, but wittily. Most of these kinds of plays are witty but at the end, the mood of a play turns very serious to give a topic and message to the audience. In contrast, Kim Kwang-bo’s play doesn’t lose its initial mood. It does not lose wit, but gives the topic and message to the audience at the same time. Not only a producer but also a stage and lighting director are similar. When I feel, “Oh, this is very impressive and awesome”, usually it is the same directors who designed it.

At first, you just saw plays as a hobby. But now, plays have become your dream. Was there any special trigger to make that happen?

Most people’s hope is ‘get a job that I like and want to work at’. I was the same, too. I got a part-time job in a theater because I wanted to work there and had an interest in it. It was a very hard and busy time. A play progresses live, so if some small differences happen it can be a big accident. I was nervous, busy, and out of my mind. Nevertheless, I felt happy and excited when a play finished or a play began that we had prepared for a long time. My desire to work became stronger. Many other part-timers started the part-time job like me, because they like plays too. Also, there are a lot of part-timers who are university students. However, a lot of people quit the part-time job because it is very hard and busy. I was the same, too. I wanted to quit the job, but finally my choice was the theater.

Can you explain more detail, what do you want to do?

I want to be a play producer. You may be wondering what play producers do. A play producer does a similar work that a movie director does and a PD in a television program field does. A producer does almost everything and handles everything about the play that he or she produces. Therefore, a good producer’s duty is finding and combining experts in many fields.

What is a hard point in preparing to be a play producer?

First, my major in university has nothing to do with plays. I don’t know well about ‘preparing to be a play producer’, because it is hard to find any books or tips about preparing to be a play producer. A play producer is an artist. Producing needs both an artistic sense and experience. So, I have to prepare for a long time. What I can do is just do anything that I have chance to do. I think all of my effort will help me when I become a play producer later. This means all of my effort’s power cannot be felt now. Sometimes, I feel anxiety about whether am I doing right. But I keep going.

Do you feel any difference between a play that you watched when you thought of the theater as hobby between a play that you watched when you decided it was your dream?

Yes, there is a difference. Although I am not a professional play producer yet, I analyze a play in spite of myself after hoping to become a play producer. I enjoyed and absorbed a play without any thinking before. Now, I analyze a play while maintaining some distance. So, I am very happy when I meet a play that makes me concentrate on it, because I can enjoy a play when I like a play purely.

Is there any special etiquette that audience should remember, unlike other genres of performance?

It is very important to arrive at a theater at the appointed time. In a movie theater, the movie’s tempo and flow do not change even if someone comes in late or goes out after the movie has started. Also, there is no mechanical device in the audience’s passage. In contrast, there is a mechanical device in the audience’s passage in a small theater. There are lines or machines in the passage, so if someone touches them during a play, it can cause an accident. The actors and players may notice people who come in late. Then their concentration could be interrupted. The means the audience could be bothered too. This is why if you are late, you can come in only at a fixed time and even if you miss the fixed time, then you cannot come into a theater at all. In a play, the lighting and sound are controlled live, too. So, if somebody moves then some sounds and variables can happen. Variables can happen in every situation, but if the audiences does such things, the chances that an accident will happen increase.

Plays have high entry barriers. What do you think about it?

I think the first entry barrier is price. These days the prices of movies have increased, but still a play ticket is more expensive than a movie ticket. If you are a university student, you can get a student discount. A play has weak promotion because the size of the capital is small, so it is hard to make people to see plays. Also, there are many movie theaters. In contrast, there are not many play theaters. A play is usually released just one time in a weekday and one or two times in the weekend. So, it has more limitations to be seen.

Can you give some tips about how can we enjoy a play well?

I recommend you to read the synopsis first and then see the play. It will be very helpful. It makes us concentrate on the play more easily. When we see a play, we need to understand its characters, and time and space background. This understanding needs a lot of effort and concentration. But if you read a synopsis before, you can watch a play more comfortably. In addition, see plays with an open mind. Some people complain about a play that it is too fictional and isn’t realistic. Of course, a play is more down-to-earth than a movie. However, a play is a fictional performance, too. A play is based on a fictional script. So, if you see plays with an open mind, it will be more fun.

Do you have anything more to say?

I want to talk to people who have not seen a play yet. Like a movie has many genres, plays have many genres, too. It is common for people to think that a play is not their style, even though they have seen just one. This case is that a play and that genre are not your style. It is, not problem of the play. Many people misunderstand a play in that way. Many people enjoy performances to experience indirect experience activity. I think a play is a good performance for experiencing an indirect experience activity. So, I hope many people will enjoy and love a play.

Heo Junyoung  gyunz0224@naver.com

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