[VIEWPOINT]A play is the life we dream about

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[VIEWPOINT]A play is the life we dream about

When I turned 60, all things were different from what I thought they would be. I thought that as I grew older, everything would be in order and I would be able to take a rest. But now at sixty plus two, I am almost buried under a pile of work that should be handled every day. But I enjoy that, because to an actress like me, the stage is my life.
Novelists help readers grow by writing novels. Architects are deeply involved and participate in others’ lives with architecture and singers with their songs. Actors and actresses take a more direct approach to people. A performance stage is small, but there I can share time and space with the spectators. In those moments, I can feel the unity of my life with their lives and vice versa. That moment belongs to me, an actress, and no one ― not my family, not my lover ― can take it away from me.
Some time ago, I heard about a story of a paralyzed man who, upon awakening, began his day by putting all his energy into moving a toe. Hearing the story, I realized the truth once again that what I wanted from acting was nothing grand. I’d be happy only if I could give people as much energy as that needed to move the paralyzed man’s toe.
My roles have always had nothing to do with my real age. In a play, regardless of being high or low in position or rich or poor, I am free from time and space. In my 20s, I played the role of a 90-year-old woman. At 58, I was a 28-year-old woman and at 62, I became a 50-year-old mother.
I set myself a goal earlier this year having to do with numbers. I performed in a play “19 and 80” at the beginning of this year, which was about the life, memories and love shared by a 19-year-old boy named Harold and an 80-year-old woman named Maude. At first, the play was just a part of my reportoire. But as I performed more, this play began to fit me like my skin. If the Maude I played had not been 80 years old in the play, I would not have had a new goal; Maude’s life expressed in her age gave me the specific message that I would perform until I was 80.
But despite my compulsive feeling of destiny, the age “80” is in fact an abstract number to an actor or actress (or to anyone). I cannot control my life-span; neither do I know if the blessing of performing on the stage until that age will be given to me. In any case, in Maude’s words, the age of 80 is “too beautiful an age to leave this world.”
I wanted to share with the audience the love and wisdom that Maude gave to the 19-year-old Harold. I wanted to give the 19-year-old youths of the world a different perspective on life. Now I’d like to confess the exclusive pleasure I felt when I performed in “19 and 80.” When I saw a group of young people sitting in the front row, I winked at them playfully as if I were asking, “You guys, speak out frankly. In fact, you want to fall in love with this old grandma, don’t you?”
I hope there are lots of terrific grandmothers like Maude. I hope there are lots of older women who can see and cry over beautiful sunsets or sea-gulls. I hope the same thing would happen to them that happened to me: As I watched Maude in her 80s, I developed a new dream at 62.

* The writer is a stage actress. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.


by Park Jung-ja

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