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"A Midsummer Nightmare" at Lee Hae-rang Arts Theatre

On November 12, there were many high school students, lovely couples, and families who were coming out of the Lee Hae-rang Arts theatre at Dongguk University(DGU).  They watched a musical, ‘A Midsummer Nightmare’.  “I just watched this musical. I had learned in class ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’  was written by William Shakespeare, so it was exciting for me to compare and enjoy the musical and Shakespeare’s original play,” said a student of National High School of Traditional Arts. 
The place where the musical ‘A Midsummer Nightmare’ was presented was ‘Lee Hae-rang Arts theatre’. The theatre was established with a contribution of 200million won.   Now, let us go to the Art theatre and enjoy the musical. 

1. The musical ‘A Midsummer Nightmare’ was presented by the Academic-Industrial Cooperation.  The Department of Theatre at DGU arranged and supported this musical with a theatre company called Ja-myoung-jong.  The musical was performed before the official opening ceremony of the Lee Hae-rang Arts theatre.  The musical was first performed at Towol theatre in Seoul Arts Center in 2006 and was well received by audiences.  According to the director, although the words of Shakespeare have attained universal recognition over the generations, there are differences between East and West, variations in performances, and  a generation gap.  This has forced us to reinterpret the artistic work.    This musical was adapted from ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and Korean traditional folk story ‘Jang-hwa Hong-ryen.’
2.  In opening scene, there is a queen and many ghosts.  The dark and smoky atmosphere might scare you. The ghosts move around the stage, and even the stage itself turns around.  And then, the queen and the king of the ghosts argue about the king’s bad behavior towards women.  The first scene is one of the best scenes and the favorite scene of the actress who performs the queen (Hong Keum-dan).  When I watched, I could understand why.  The audiences can see the musical’s main theme, by viewing the first scene.  After an argument, the king makes a plan to fool his wife by applying ‘A Love Flower’ potion into her eyes.  The flower moves around and emits bright lights. It is really esoteric.  When you drop the flower potion into the eyes of a person, that person falls in love with the one whom he happens to meet at first.
At the time, there are two couples in the woods.  Choon-fung and So-sun are running away from So-sun’s father who wants So-sun to marry  Kil-sang.  Kil-sang chases So-sun, and Sun-jin who loves Kil-sang also chases him.  The King of the woods, Lim-hwang, would like to help them, but he makes a mistake. He applies the flower not on Kil-sang’s eye but on Choon-fung’s eye.  Therefore, the relation between the four people gets totally wrong.  This part is the same as the Shakespeare's musical, but it is shown in a way that Korean audiences can better understand. The play is touching because it pleads to our emotion. 
In the ‘A Midsummer Nightmare’, I fixed my eyes on "Bak", "Bak" who is an attendant of the king and a cute snail.  If you want to know why Bak is a snail, please watch this musical.  In front of the stage,  the snail, Bak, creeps from left to right.  She explains each scene and has fun with the audiences.  As she creeps over the stage, the audience understands the passage of time.  Because of her funny costume and acting, many people like "Bak" and so do I. 
‘A Midsummer Nightmare’ is a musical so the music is important.  I talked with the actress Hong Keum-dan, and asked her which songs best represent the theme of the musical.  She answered, "Song of the Hong-ryen".  When I watched the musical, I could understand why she picked this song.  Because this musical is an adaptation of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and the traditional Korean folk story ‘Jang-hwa Hong-ryen’, I can feel ‘Han’, which means by sad and sorrowful Korean emotion, throughout  the musical. 
3. When I first entered the theatre, I was surprised to see that the theatre was so modern.  There are about 300 seats.  The seats are divided into three sections and the stage can rotate in order to use the stage more efficiently.  About 50 years ago, Lee Hae-rang founded the Department of Theatre at DGU, and taught as a professor.  He also achieved other successes in the theatrical world, which ultimately contributed in creating Lee Hae-rang Play Foundation.  This foundation donated 200 million won to DGU on May 7, 2008 for the construction of a new Lee Hae-rang Theatre to help inspire student of the theatre.

"Students of the Department of Theatre at DGU are helping us to operate the stage and lighting," said Hong Keum-dan.  I think this is very meaningful for developing the abilities of our students.  Although the students cannot perform on the stage, they  gain practical experience in managing the musical. 
On November 16,  the curtain closed on "A midnight Nightmare".  "I was sad to see the musical end but we plan to perform the musical again next summer so I'm excited about that," said Ms. Hong.  I am looking forward to seeing the musical again.  Please remember the Lee Hae-rang Arts theatre. You can enjoy many performances at the theatre.

Kim Tae-hyang  kimtaehyang@dongguk.edu

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