중앙데일리

Lessons from back alleys become stories onstage

‘Without a penny, people become a part of theater. If anyone decides to take part in theater, they do it out of passion, regardless of money.’

May 07,2007
As the spotlight bore down on him, the main character, a writer named Katurian, undergoes interrogation at the hands of two police officers, Tupolski and Ariel.
Threatening voices fill the air, and shivers sweep the audience like waves. On one end of the stage, a sharp-eyed man, Park Keun-hyoung, 43, intently watches the play, which he directed. This is already the third work staged by Park this year.
“The play is different from my previous works. It is sentimental but cruel at the same time,” he said describing “Pillowman,” which is being staged at LG Arts Center.
“The play is sad though it is a story of the gruesome murders of children. I feel sympathy for the murderer. Unlike what it seems, it is not a thriller but a drama about a lonely soul,” Park said.
“Pillowman” is a play by Irish writer Martin McDonagh, about a fiction writer who is interrogated by the police for his short stories and their similarities to the grisly murders of local children. The play received the prestigious Olivier Award in 2004.
The local version features Choi Min-sik, the star of “Oldboy” and a villian in “Sympathy for Lady Vengeance.”
“There is a twist in the end,” Park said.
Like the play, Park’s life itself has been full of twists. Beginning his acting career when he was a high school senior, he became the most sought after stage director last year, winning three important awards ― the Daesan Literature Award, the Arts Award of the Year and the Theater Critics Award ― for his original play, “Gyeongsuk, Gyeongsuk’s Father.”
The play was staged this year featuring Cho Jae-hyun, the star of “Bad Guy,” as was the musical, “The Great Catsby,” also directed by Park.
“Gyeongsuk, Gyeongsuk’s Father” is the story of a father with wanderlust who leaves his family during the Korean War and comes back later with a new wife.
“My father was a bit like Gyeongsuk’s father. He seemed to enjoy hurting our feelings. I wondered why he wandered around so much,” he said. Park added that his sister’s name is also Gyeong-suk.
“I wanted to talk about my father’s generation,” he said. “I wanted to show how dysfunctional a family could be in a male oriented society.”
In 1981, he joined a theater company in Seoul with a vague desire to become an actor. A few years later, he switched to directing. “I didn’t have the confidence to be successful as an actor,” he said.
He has already directed more than 30 plays and written more than 10 including “Gyeongsuk, Gyeongsuk’s Father” and “Cheongchun Yechan” (Adoration of Youth), a play that earned him fame in 1999.
Despite this, Park is still very humble, a self-taught man. He did not go to college, but learned everything he knows about theater by watching plays and listening to actors and directors.
Park said he finds subjects for his plays not only by walking through back alleys and observing people but also from ordinary people he meets, generally the disadvantaged. The theater group he runs is called Golmokgil, or alley. Asked why he has portrayed the less privileged, he said, “Because my life is like theirs, and people I mert are like them.” “It is hard to make money in theater. Theatrical works are made with much lower budgets than films,” he said.
“Without a penny, people become a part of theater. If anyone decides to take part in theater, they do it out of passion,” he said.
Park said the essence of theater, what lures people into it, is a spirit common to those involved.
“People learn how to live life through the theater,” he said. jbiz91@joongang.co.kr

“Pillowman” continues until May 20. It is staged in Korean and has no English subtitles. For more information, visit www.lgart.com.


By Limb Jae-un Staff Writer [jbiz91@joongang.co.kr]



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