Gyeonggi’s best team up to make ‘Romeo’ musicalIt seems that every district or neighborhood in the country needs to have its own cultural center or art gallery.
Provincial and local governments want to avoid their districts being labeled cultural backwaters, and have been furiously constructing such facilities to escape this fate. However, the result is that most of the centers are roomy, modern and financially unstable.
For cities in Gyeonggi province, the solution has been to pool their resources and go on tour. This weekend the Gyeonggi Arts Coalition is launching a tour of a 21st century take on “Romeo & Juliet.”
The coalition comprises 14 regional arts centers, including the Anyang Culture & Art Center, Uijeongbu Arts Center and the Bucheon Culture Foundation. The centers organized last year, with the goal of providing regular shows for provincial residents and a venue for artists and performers.
“We have been supporting province-based troupes and artists because they lack human and material resources,” said Soh Hong-sam, head of the Gyeonggi Arts Coalition and a member of the Uijeongbu Arts Center. “Promoting was one of the hardest parts, because there was a social bias that a performance done outside Seoul was not as well done [as those in the capital],” he said.
For this six-week Gyeonggi tour, the coalition decided to produce a musical adapted from Shakespeare’s play “Romeo & Juliet.” The money for the production was raised by holding regional lotteries and by pooling money from the art centers’ annual budgets; they succeeded in raising 320 million won ($309,000).
They hired the young director Kim Gwang-bo, one of the most prominent performing arts directors in Daehangno, the heart of the Korean musical scene. It was Mr. Kim’s idea to make the musical ecstatic and rowdy, and to invite a rock band to do the music.
Set in the 21st Century, the play is retold from the point of view of Mercutio, and critiques aspects of modern life.
“Some people were concerned that a musical adaptation by a regional troupe couldn’t succeed, but I wanted to make it as good as I could,” Mr. Kim said.
by Lee Min-a
The Gyeonggi tour opens tonight at Gwacheon Citizen’s Hall for two days, then moves around the province as follows: Dec. 2 and 3 at Uijeongbu Arts Center; Dec. 9 and 10 at Bucheon Culture Foundation; Dec. 16 and 17 at Ansan Culture and Arts Center; Dec. 22 and 23 at Anyang Culture & Art Center; Dec. 28 and 29 at Goyang Culture Foundation. Gunpo and Osan shows are scheduled for January. For ticketing, call (02) 744-0300.