Warring clans clash to tune of strings, drums

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Warring clans clash to tune of strings, drums

What do you get when you cross the traditional Korean folktale “Jamyeonggo” and Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”? You might be surprised to find that when the two meet, they become a modern comic musical performance known as “Fanta-Stick.”

After a successful four-month run from April 25 under the name “Corean Rhapsody,” the show has been reborn with the title Fanta-Stick.

The name of the show, which opened Tuesday, is meant to represent two different types of instruments: “Fanta” represents the strings, while “Stick” aptly describes the percussion instruments. The strings and percussion also represent the two warring families central to both of the stories that inspired the show.

After destroying a drum presented from the heavens, the strings family is cursed and become ghosts. This plot point is inspired by the story of Jamyeonggo, in which Princess Nakryang betrays her family by tearing up a drum that signals invasion as her lover Hodong encroaches upon her father’s land. Meanwhile, in Fanta-Stick, the percussion family fights to defend its honor and win the honor of having the “perfect sound.”

In the performance, all of the music will be performed live onstage with a variety of instruments ranging from the gayageum, a Korean twelve-stringed zither, electric violins and the djembe, an African hand drum. Yet the music hardly adheres to stodgy traditionalism, as pop elements keep the show modern.

But that’s not all. The choreography puts a spin on traditional Korean dance, marrying the use of colorful fans with acrobatic, martial arts-inspired movements. At one point, the string family uses fans as weapons in combat. Another fight scene includes flags up to two meters in length that represent the grandeur of the percussion family.

In addition, the performers will showcase the art of midair ballet using “aerial silk,” a 17-meter-long piece of fabric that suspends the dancers from the ceiling. Cha Jeong-ho, the director of Korea’s acrobatic performance team “Perfect,” is to credit for these daring dances.

Fanta-Stick, with its action-packed scenes and original screenplay, was selected for the 2009 Korea Sparkling Festival, adding the performance to the ranks of iconic local shows like “Nanta,” “Jump” and “Ballerina who Loves a B-boy.”

By Hannah Kim Contributing writer [estyle@joongang.co.kr]

The Korea Sparkling Festival, hosted by the Korea Tourism Organization and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, runs from Sept. 12 to 27. This will be in the middle of Fanta-Stick’s open run at the 63 Art Hall in Yeouido, western Seoul, which began Tuesday.

To get to the 63 Building, get off at Yeouido Station, line No. 5, exit 5, or Daebang Station, line No. 1, exit 6. Tickets cost 50,000 won ($40). For more information, call (02)789-5663 or visit www.63.co.kr.

The percussion family shows its stuff during “Fanta-Stick.” Provided by the organizers
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