It is hard to imagine that I have been here in beautiful South Korea for 4 months. I am heading home on Saturday and am spending this last week sight-seeing and visiting new places in Korea, including Jeju Island.
I have made so many new friends and discoveries. The most exciting discoveries I have made have actually been about myself. I realize how much I depend on collaboration in the creative process of putting together a play. I realized I have taken much for granted when communicating with someone for whom the National language is difficult for them to understand. I realize how much I " verbally process" explanations and need to streamline my train of thought in order to communicate with speed and thoroughness.
I have always been dependent on the kindness of strangers, and the kindness I received through new friends in Korea has been overwhelming. The language barrier required that I always have a translator , but there were several time I just started speaking Korean, or at least I thought I was doing so until I saw the blank expressions.
However, I am amazed by how much we are alike. There are more similarities than differences between people. The work I did in Busan was based on getting actors to act on their impulses, feel their strength and understand the power of the human experience. Universal them retold through new characters, are what keep audiences coming to the theatre.
I was awestruck by the beauty of the Korean people; Koreans are gorgeous in their hospitality and kindness as well as their faces ( both natural and cosmetically enhanced) and their fashion sensibilities.
It's hard to believe that Children of Eden will open the end of next week. As we have been technically in rehearsals all semester, this is the longest period of time I have rehearsed a singular play in a very long time.
There is something to be said for allowing character development. I see the growth and in each rehearsal, some student finds something new. We have time to clean and focus scenes.
But the length of down time between rehearsals causes some cast members to forget notes, so there are cons as well as pros. And the "Luxury of time" concept is a falsehood- as we still do not have Act II completely blocked. Because all cast members also pull double duty as technicians and designers, we cannot rehearse during set construction, light hang and focus, and costume building. So they are working 16 to 18 hour days to get all finished so that everyone can be onstage for tech.
We are also slowed down by the language barrier, as every note , question and direction must be translated. I have learned the value of an economic vocabulary and often use hand gestures to signify " I got it- let's move on."
Still I am very encouraged with the work ethic and talent pool that Dongseo has provided in these wonderful students. I am eager for them to share their hard work and this beautiful story with audiences.
But not until we finish blocking!
Informal photo call ( we all just happened to be wearing white!) with the cast of Children of Eden.
These students are the seniors, for which this production serves as their Capstone experience. In addition to performing major roles in the musical, these students also serve as designers, construction crew, box office staff, and musical director and choreographer. They are all working so hard on the show. I know it will be a tremendous success.
Buddha's Birthday. This week was an extended holiday weekend here in Korea. Last Thursday was Labor day. Monday was Children's Day and today, Tuesday, was Buddha's Birthday. DSU was closed since friday, as both yesterday and today were national holidays. The streets and temples of Korea have been festooned with colorful lanterns for weeks in honor of today. The weather was a perfect 72 degrees and sunny. After the terrible tragedy of the ferry disaster several weeks ago, it was obvious the Korean people needed a day of peace and celebration to pay tribute to those who have passed and honor the spiritual leader of so many people.
The MAC theatre festival has been in full swing. Last week I saw L'Ouli des Anges, a dance drama presented by Au Theatre Laboratoire of Switzerland. This afternoon I attended a multimedia fantasy L'Oiseau Bleu
( the blue bird) presented by Collectif Quatre Ailes , a french company. Both were terrific and used movement vocabularies in completely different ways.
We are in final rehearsal week for Hwang Sang Sin Hwa, the Korean drama I am directing. It closes the festival on May 11 and 12.
EvB here! As many of you know, I worked in Busan, South Korea in 2014. I had the great fortune to teach musical theatre for Dong Seo University, direct the South Korean premier of Children of Eden, and direct a Korean play for the MAC international festival.