Exhibit an education in stage art and design

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Exhibit an education in stage art and design


Photograph, left, shows a stage created by Kim Jeong-hwan in 1964 for the performance of “Chunhyangjeon,” a theatrical adaptation of one of Korea’s best-loved folk tales. Image at right is a stage created by Choi Yeon-ho in 1996 for “Faust.” The photos are part of the “Three Stage Designers in Korea” exhibition at Daehangno, central Seoul, through Dec. 15.Provided by exhibition organizers

It’s a good bet that the vast majority of theatergoers never get past the performance on stage to ponder the origin of the stage itself.

In order to help the public understand the evolution of stage design in Korea and the process today an exhibition is currently under way at the Artist House in the cultural neighborhood of Daehangno, Hyehwa-dong, central Seoul, an area known as a mecca for theater lovers.

The theme of the exhibition, titled “Three Stage Designers in Korea,” is centered on the lives and major works of legendary stage designers Kim Jeong-hwan, Jang Jong-sun and Choi Yeon-ho. The show is divided into two sections: one dedicated to copies of blueprints and sketches produced by the three designers, along with chronicles of their creations.

The second part of the exhibition is on the lower level in a wood-lined room where props and costumes are neatly displayed.

Many of the stage-art pictures exhibited at the show are based on performances inspired by Korean folktales and literature.

However, one photograph that stands out is of the stage for “The Diary of Anne Frank,” which was created by Jang in 1960.

Instead of traditional Korean garments, the actors wore Western-style attire and the stage itself along with the props had an international vibe that is missing from the other stages covered by the exhibition.

“The Korean history of theater is not very long and we have only been starting to gather information and records about it since the 1930s,” says Lee Tae-seob, chief curator of the exhibition. “We wanted to show the people what stage art is all about and to do that we chose three renowned stage artists who basically built Korean stage art from nothing.

“In America and other parts of the Western world, stage art is considered to be a type of design. In Korea, we see it is as another aspect of architecture,” he continues. “We do acknowledge that the space of the exhibition is limited, but we believe the show has significance.”

Lee, who is a stage artist and professor of theater at Yongin University, emphasizes what should be quite clear: “As you can see, if there is no stage, there is no performance. This seems straightforward and obvious, but not a lot of people realize that.”

By Lee Jee-eun Contributing writer [estyle@joongang.co.kr]

*The exhibition runs through Dec. 15 and is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. It is closed on Sundays and holidays. Admission is free. Go to Hyehwa Station, line No. 4, exit 2. For more details, call (02) 760-4717.

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