Celebrating Children Has Become More Than Just Play

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Celebrating Children Has Become More Than Just Play

This week, many parents in Korea are probably thinking about what to do for Children's Day, which falls on May 5. It is not a bad idea to take your children to an amusement park, if you don't mind spending the whole day queuing for entertainment. If you want your children to have more than just some fun on their special day, take them to a children's play.

Until a few years ago in Korea, children's plays were considered inexpensive, crude productions by theater companies trying to make money on a small investment. Things have improved a great deal since then because audiences have become a lot more sophisticated. To keep up with the changes, many theater troupes are putting a lot of effort into their productions for children. Also, troupes that specialize in children's plays have begun to appear.

This year large and medium scale performance halls in Seoul, such as LG Arts Center, Sejong Culture Center and Munye Theater, will feature performances for children. This has led to complaints about the dearth of performances for youth on Children's Day.

Works for children vary in form as well as in subject. Many of them are based on well-known international children's stories, including "Alice in Wonderland," and "Aladdin's Magic Lamp," but there are some new creative productions as well. "The Red Bogy's Tears," for instance, is a shadow puppet show performed by the Japanese theater, Tsunobue. This show also includes a sing-along session hosted by television stars such as Kim Sung-eun, a child actress known as Midal-i. All these performances, whether they are in the form of musicals, ballets or plays, are good entertainment suitable for children, and some of the big scale musicals will be interesting for adults as well.

It requires many good ideas and a great deal of effort to produce a performance that satisfies children and ward off their tendency for distraction. "Alice in Wonderland," produced by Seoul Ballet Theater, achieves success in this regard. James Jeon, who recently choreographed the ballet for children, said that he was obsessed by the thought that he should think like a child to be able to make his work appropriate for children. "In addition, I had to make the work not too childlike but pleasing to adult viewers as well. I'm sure I lost some hair worrying about all those things," he said.

Some ballet performances offer explanations to help children better understand the plot. For instance, "Carnival of the Animals" by Universal Ballet includes a backstage tour before its performance. Julia H. Moon, general director of the ballet company, leads the tour, which includes an explanation of the work.

On Children's Day, many events will also be held in and outside of the performance halls. Children can have their faces painted or they can meet actors disguised as animal characters.

by Park So-young

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