Kwachon Hosts Spectacular 2000 Madangkuk FestivalEvery fall since 1997, the city of Kwachon becomes a huge outdoor theater. For 2000, the Kwachon Madangkuk Festival offers a brilliant array of theatrical performances. Some shows unfold outside on the Open Grass Theater, others are staged indoors in Government Complex II.
The festival, which runs September 22 to October 1, draws on talent from four foreign countries and also from within Korea. The 10-day program features street performances, mimes, modern dance, music, and interactive games.
Madangkuk is often compared to two other festivals, Seoul Theater and World Dance. Though the other two are known to be serious and highbrow, the vibe at Madangkuk is lighthearted and almost whimsical.
Madangkuk's attractions, however, are just as compelling. Last year, crowds flocked to the performances, most of which were, and still are, free. The most expensive ticket is 2,000 won.
Kwachon residents usually come out in full force, especially for the opening ceremony. This year, the spectacle kicks off on September 23 with large-scale traditional folk dances 'gilnoree' and 'pannolem.' The pennolem features a tug-of-war and a musical exorcism by farmer folk bands.
For its fourth annual show, Madangkuk offers an oustanding lineup. Performers selected must meet the festival's high standards for talent and entertainment value.
Australian troupe 'Strange Fruit' will test the limits of gravity in "Flight." The performance explores humankind's age-old longing to fly. Using 4.5-meter sway poles, Strange Fruit's surreal, darkly comic vision will unfold high above the heads of the audience.
An interactive work by the Columbian Teatro Tierra is designed to encourage audience participation. The performance simulates the anxiety, loneliness, and discord felt by people lost in a crowd.
Another Columbian ensemble, Taller de Colombia, has joined with Handoore, a leading Korean entertainment troupe, to create a street performance-based work about colonialism. Both countries were in the past swallowed up by empires-Columbia by Spain and Korea by Japan. After the Kwachon festival, the joint-production will perform in the United States and Europe, as well as the Mexico Cancun Festival and the Columbia Bogot Festival.
One of the festival's domestically produced musicals won the 1997 Baeksang Art Award. Blue Saigon is a love story about a Vietnam veteran. Spanning the Korean War, 1950, to the present, Blue Saigon is an ethereal vision that shifts between reality and fantasy. It is presented by Mosineun Saramdeul.
Performances at the women's festival tackle topics such as prejudice and dependence on a husband for money and status. Korean Feminist Artist, a group of middle-aged women, get hip with "Rappers with Dippers," a collection of rap songs and dances that express feminist issues.
The women's festival also celebrates the female. In "Laundering," Mr Nam's Dance Company portrays heartwarming scenes of traditional Korean women laborers.
Check out www.madang.or.kr for more information. You can also log on to the Internet to watch real-time performances.
by Yonghee Joe