The Korea Herald


ARKO Selection pushes theatrical boundaries

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : Feb. 8, 2024 - 08:59

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Actors rehearse a scene from Actors rehearse a scene from "Teddy Daddy Run." (Arts Council Korea)

ARKO Selection's fourth set of productions, scheduled to kick off in mid-February, showcases five works -- three plays, one music concert and one ballet -- that stand out for notable directing techniques.

The play "Teddy Daddy Run," slated to run Feb. 16-25, is a road trip action drama following 16-year-old Korean teen Yoon-seo and 15-year-old Korean Filipina Nina as the two search for their missing father across various locations in Manila, the Philippines.

“We wanted to address the societal issue of ‘Kopinos.'" "Kopino" is a Filipino slang term for a child born to an unwed Filipina mother and Korean father, whose father abandoned them. The play highlights the resilient bonds formed among children navigating life under irresponsible adults,” explained director Seo Jung-wan in a press conference on Tuesday.

Seo pointed out some unconventional elements in the play, including chase scenes and dynamic changes in settings.

"The play has quick scene transitions like movies. So, we incorporated some physical theater elements to convey the transitions. Despite the confines of the stage, our aim was to broaden the audience's theatrical imagination," he said.

Actors rehearse a scene from Actors rehearse a scene from "Hwajeon." (Arts Council Korea)

The play "Hwajeon," running Feb. 17-25, offers a reinterpretation of historical events that took place in the remote valleys of Jeongseon, Gangwon Province, during the early Joseon era (1392-1910). It portrays conflicts and reconciliation between two groups: displaced Goryeo Dynasty loyalists and local farmers.

Producer Kim Seung-cheol said ARKO's support allows a private theater company like his to experiment.

“We made the proscenium arch of the main theater as a canvas for painters. It’s like collapsing a three-dimensional structure into a two-dimensional image,” said Kim. Live music performed by seven musicians will accompany the show.

Actors rehearse a scene from Actors rehearse a scene from "Sara's Adventures in Wonderland." (Arts Council Korea)

The play "Sara's Adventures in Wonderland," scheduled to be staged Feb. 23 to March 3, focuses on the coming-of-age journey of a girl overcoming the stigma of schizophrenia after her mother is diagnosed with the mental disorder.

Director Choi Chi-un adopted a lecture-performance format in an attempt to approach the subject “rationally” rather than “emotionally,” aiming to create a stage where the audience can think about how society views the families of people with schizophrenia.

The music piece "In & Around C," set to run Feb. 24-25, features 10 musicians from various genres, including traditional Korean music, jazz, electronic music and Baroque music.

“Using a documentary theater format, we wanted to narrow the distance between the audience and the musicians,” said director Yun Hyun-jong. By playing recorded interviews and dialogues of musicians in between the performances, the show allows the audience to get to know more about the musicians' personalities and characters.

Dancers rehearse a scene from Dancers rehearse a scene from "The Line of Obsession." (Arts Council Korea)

The contemporary ballet piece "The Line of Obsession," choreographed by Jeong Hyeong-il, draws inspiration from Mondrian's abstract art. Jung could not attend the press conference due to a health concern.

These five works are part of the 28 new productions funded this year by Arts Council Korea, a government organization committed to fostering diverse arts and cultural activities in the country.