All of Seoul's a stage with the Bard in town

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All of Seoul's a stage with the Bard in town

If you're keen on classic productions of Shakespeare, full of thees and thous, stop reading. But if you believe that literary puns can cross centuries, cultures and continents, and that genius is built on the shoulders of other geniuses, Seoul's Shakespeare offerings may pique your interest. Read on.

Shakespeare's Love Festival

How do you translate emotions drawn from a language based on iambic pentameter to a language without stressed syllables? How do you create a funeral scene that moves the hearts of audiences centuries removed from Shakespeare's, and from a completely different society?

In "Shakespeare Love Festival," Shakespeare is recreated and redesigned with cultural sensitivities in mind. A funeral in "Romeo and Juliet" has elements of traditional Korean funerals. Clothes bespeak old Korean fashion. The festival runs through Nov. 24 at the National Theater of Korea on Mount Namsan in central Seoul.

While the plays are in Korean, the unusual staging has drawn the curious from all walks of life.

"If you are familiar with Shakespeare," said one organizer, "being able to appreciate the visual is enough to enjoy the play."

"Shakespeare Love Festival" will be staged at 7:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and Sundays at 4 p.m. until Nov. 24. For more information, call (02) 325-8150.

The Compleat Works

of Wllm Shkspr (abridged)

In June, Seoul's only expatriate acting troupe, the Seoul Players, staged its first play, "I Do Not Like Thee, Dr. Fell." The production, by Irish playwright Bernard Farrell, filled a niche for English-language plays for the local expat community.

Now the Seoul Players is performing "The Compleat Works of Wllm Shkspr (abridged)." Directed by Katrina Chandra, an English teacher from New Zealand, the comic work will be performed at Arirang Theater today through Sunday and again Nov. 6-10.

"To be or not to be," becomes "to cut, or not to cut" in this playful interpretation of Shakespeare's works. "The Compleat Works" is an attempt to squeeze all 37 of Shakespeare's plays into just 97 minutes, hence the "abridged."

It's Shakespeare in the most unexpected manner. "Othello" is presented as the blues and "Titus Andronicus" as a cooking show. The histories appear as sports contests and the comedies are all rolled into one.

The play, written by members of the London-based Reduced Shakespeare Company, drew rave reviews when it was first performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

The Seoul Players was founded last year under the leadership of Roman Zolnierczyk, an Australian in the value-added plastics industry. The group's first meeting drew a couple dozen people. Seoul Players now has 70 members.

"It's a nice way to get an international group of people together," says Susan Reilly, who joined the company after watching "I Do Not Like Thee, Dr. Fell." "The members have come from different places and different backgrounds and they're make theater happen in another country."

"The Compleat Works of Wilm Shkspr (abridged)" will be staged at 8:30 tonight, tomorrow and Nov. 6-9. For additional times, call 011-9003-2101.

by Joe Yong-hee

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