Sexual dysfunction theatre cures ignorance with humor
It’s a new genre of theatre being pioneered by medical doctors. Last November, a group of Korean urologists put on a sex comedy called “Stories of Men Who Stand Again” about middle-aged men with erectile dysfunctions.
In between skits poking fun at such bedroom troubles, the doctors come on stage to talk straight about syndromes such as prostrate hypertrophy, complete with projectors and diagrams.
The play, sponsored by Pfizer Korea, the manufacturer of Viagra, was a major breakthrough in a country where seeking treatment for sexual problems is considered shameful.
According to a recent survey by the Korean Andrological Society, the group who organized last year’s play and a new performance titled “Problems Under Your Belly” that opened yesterday, Korean men are three times more susceptible to erectile dysfunction than men in other Asian nations. However, less than 15 percent of Koreans plagued by such problems admit to them, while less than 5 percent actually sought out treatment. The rest looked to alternative treatments such as health foods and tonics.
“There is a saying among urologists that Korean men are most passionate about male stamina,” said Kim Mi-seon a spokeswoman for Paim Communications, the theater troupe that is helping the doctors put on the performances. “But when it comes to actual problems, they are the last to seek help.”
Last year’s play, which toured eight cities, attracted a total audience of 5,000. According to organizers, the play was particularly successful in bringing Korean middle-aged men to the theater ― most plays are attended by younger audiences.
The new play, which began its run yesterday at Sangmyeong Art Hall in Daehangno, is by the same group of doctors and actors. It features three couples ― newlywed, middle-aged and elderly ― suffering from pre-ejaculation, impotence and prostate hypertrophy, respectively.
However, the story focuses on the young couple in order to break through a common misconception that erectile dysfunctions mostly occur in middle-aged men.
The doctors come on stage in between acts, teaching the audience medical terminology related to men’s health, explaining the details of symptoms and possible treatments for each disease.
Overall, the play is done in the style of a TV sitcom. It is divided into several episodes involving characters who live in the same house. The only difference with T.V. is the explicit bedroom talk.
Last year’s play has won the hearts of its sponsors and viewers alike. In addition to Pfizer, nine other pharmaceutical companies joined to become official sponsors this year. Couples have been steadily reserving tickets, which are free.
However, while the audience may be eager to hear about these sensitive subjects, sometimes the doctors felt awkward getting on stage.
“I had a hard time discussing the subject at first,” said Min Gwon-sik, a doctor involved with the project.
“But after working with the actors, my self-esteem in dealing with patients grew. I also saw that patients’ confidence in me as a doctor increased after I appeared in the play.”
by Park Soo-mee
For information, call 02-762-9190.