They Got Rythm; STOMP Is Back

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They Got Rythm; STOMP Is Back

A play without a plot. A musical without conventional instruments. A performance without dialogue, but plenty of noise. This is the world of STOMP, a place where performers are bound by one common thread - rhythm.

After a four-year absence, STOMP is returning to Seoul for performances scheduled to open at the Seoul Arts Center on Tuesday and lasting through Dec. 10.

STOMP breaks ties with the conventional theater in performances that combine percussion with dance and comedy, physically grueling movements with delicate moments. Since there is no storyline, the distinct personalities of each character is brought out through mime and dance.

"The prime directive for all the performances is: rhythm comes first," said the co-founder, Steve McNicholas, on the STOMP Web site (www.stomponline.com).

Next to rhythm, the creators emphasize sound quality and visual impact. This directive is put in application through use of common objects, such as brooms, garbage cans, paint scrapers, hub caps and platform shoes. The ordinary is lost to unlikely musical harmony in the hands of the performers.

The 100-minute performance is divided into 21 parts, each a sketch aimed at dissolving conventionality. One skit involves lighters. They are flipped open and shut to create rhythm for a fiery fugue. In another, stiff-bristle brooms become instruments for an orchestra, then double as props for dancing. "You can make music out of absolutely anything," said the group's other co-founder, Luke Cresswell.

The goal is to "amuse, uplift and inspire," according to Mr. McNicholas. "We feel we've succeeded when the audience leaves trying to play every object in their path as they leave the theater."

STOMP started with two self-described street performers from Brighton, England. Mr. McNicholas and Mr. Cresswell put together an eight-part show that wove movement and music and invited audience interaction. The show was previewed at London's Bloomsbury Theatre in 1991, then opened at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh later that year.

"We put the show together thinking, Well, maybe something will happen with it," Mr. McNicholas said. "We've not looked back since."

STOMP now consists of five touring companies and two stationary troupes based in New York and San Francisco.

It has been called "the Holy Grail of audio" by The Times and "Fabulous, hypnotizing, they vastly expand the vocabulary of rhythm."

For more information and reservations call 02-1588-7890.

by Joe Yong-hee

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