[ON STAGE]Love - any way you want it

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[ON STAGE]Love - any way you want it

A melange of theatrical works based on one of Korea's best-loved romantic stories will be hosted by the National Theater of Korea beginning next week and running until early June.

The romantic tale "Story of Chunhyang," written in the 18th century, is often compared with Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet." The story of star-crossed lovers in the far east will be portrayed in plays, traditional Korean folk operas, ballets, musicals, concerts and other art forms, many of which put new twists on the classic tale.

The romantic epic is about the forbidden love between Mongryong, the son of a prestigious governor in the town of Namwon, and Chunhyang, the daughter of a gisaeng, or consort. The story has been told on film numerous times, most notably in Im Kwon-taek's movie "Chunhyang."

From Tuesday through April 21, the National Theater Company will perform the play "The Story of Chunhyang: The Sad Life of a Geisha," directed by the provocative theater producer Oh Tae-suk.

Oh transforms the heroine Chunhyang, usually a classic symbol of fidelity and passivity, into an assertive woman who rejects her fate and attempts to lead an independent life; Oh conspicuously omits Mongryong from the story.

The play "Dreaming Chunhyang" by the Women's Theater also focuses on Chunhyang's psychological dilemmas more than her relationship with Mongryong.

In contrast to these radical takes on the Korean story, the National Theater will host other romantic tales performed more faithfully to their originals. From May 18 to 23 the Moscow National Classical Ballet Company will put on "Romeo and Juliet," choreographed by Natalya Kasatkina, a former prima ballerina at the Bolshoi Ballet Company. From May 30 to June 2 a Colombian troupe will do a classic tango performance, "Temptation of a Woman."

Among the other events on the bill are a performance by the National Dance Company, "Dance, Chunhyang," beginning June 2; a musical, "Butterfly, the Green Mountain"; a puppet theater, "The Love Song of Indangsu"; and a musical in English by the Theater Seoul troupe, "Love Story of Chunhyang."

The theater has also organized a hands-on session for trying various Korean musical instruments. For information, call 02-2264-3432 (English available).

by Park Soo-mee

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