RSC's Taming of The Shrew in Korea

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RSC's Taming of The Shrew in Korea

Kim Chul-lee vividly recalls his first impression of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) at Stratford-upon-Avon. A renowned producer, Kim first visited the RSC in January to participate in a vocalization seminar. He remembers, "Veteran and novice actors alike gathered during lunch break to recite Shakespearean sonnets. They were all extremely dedicated professionals with great passion for their work."

The RSC, the leading theatrical company in the United Kingdom, will be visiting Korea for the first time in June. Scheduled to perform June 6 to June 10 at the LG Arts Center (02-2005-0114, www.lgart.com), the RSC hopes to dazzle audiences with an original performance of the Taming of the Shrew.

From its first performance in 1879 in Shakespeare's hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon, to its move to London in 1960, the RSC has been performing for more than 120 years. Today, the RSC incorporates various modern dramatic techniques and displays a mixture of tradition and novelty to its vast audiences. The RSC is also famous for having produced a myriad of stars, such as Sir Lawrence Olivier, Vivien Leigh, and Peter O'Toole.

The RSC owes its worldwide fame to its long-standing educational program. All RSC members must undergo a training process in which they learn about the expressional aspects that make up a drama, including vocalization, speech, and body movement.

The Seoul performance of the Taming of the Shrew will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many Koreans to enjoy the RSC. Kim explains, "All RSC actors pay attention to both detail and strength. It will be a good opportunity for Korean actors to observe what is different from a Korean dramatic tradition."

These characteristics of the RSC can easily be discerned by a video production of the company. The stage itself remains quite ordinary and unembellished. This lies with the RSC's dedication to bring out the acting skills of the actors both individually and collectively.

The Taming of the Shrew is one of Shakespeare's leading comedies and has often been produced on various Korean stages. It tells of a stubborn and impetuous woman who marries a man who is at odds with her - ultimately succumbing to her role as an obedient wife. The misogynistic undertones and sloppy structure of the Taming of the Shrew often cause it to be perceived as one of Shakespeare's poorer works, but its humorous and somewhat satirical nature also make it a favorite adaptation for various movies and musicals.

The company to perform in Seoul has also played to high acclaim at the Barbican Center in London last October. Producer Lindsay Pssner has added a new touch to the play by incorporating mulitmedia tools to present a modern sense of marriage and relationships, the dominating themes of the play.

The most striking moment arises in the opening scene. Having changed the play's original sixteenth century period to modern twentieth century, the performance opens with Sly, a mason, being thrown out of a bar. Drunk, Sly staggers towards a computer; he browses through the Internet looking for a porn site but instead accidently lands in a movie site showing the Taming of the Shrew.

Audiences will enjoy the production's various interpretations on relationships and marriage. By criticizing the original play's misogynistic aspects within the performance, the RSC production of the Shrew presents a new and modern perspective on the play. The British press praised the RSC for its audacity to present current gender political issues within the production.
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