Actor Song Seung-hwan is back where he belongs — onstage
“People say it’s a miracle to premiere a play in such a time of crisis when the world is suffering from the coronavirus pandemic, and the performing arts world is hit hard as a result,” said Song Seung-hwan, one of Korea’s veteran actors and a producer, who is making his return to the theater stage for the first time in nine years with “The Dresser.”
“And it’s true. It’s a miracle. But it’s possible because of the unwinding passion and will of those who love theater.”
Song says the passion of those Korean actors and crew members involved in creating the Korean production of “The Dresser,” which is slated to kick off at the Jeongdong Theater in central Seoul from Nov. 18, is not so much different to the actors portrayed in “The Dresser” by Ronald Harwood.
The play premiered on the West End in 1980 and was adapted for the silver screen twice. The story evolves around a famous stage performer, who is known only as Sir (played by Song) and his costume manager named Norman.
Sir is respected by other actors for his passion and his lengthy career but doesn’t know how to slow down despite his doctor’s orders. Even the Second World War that’s underway can’t seem to stop Sir, who owns the Shakespeare theater company, from staging the play, “King Lear.”
“Bombs are dropping outside but it can’t keep Sir from continuing with the play,” said Song. “They don’t even know if audiences can make it to the theater, but they still continue with the show. Doesn’t it ring a bell?”
Song said he wanted to return to the stage with “The Dresser” because it “tells the story of us actors and the situation we are in is so similar.”
“We want to continue on with live theater amid the coronavirus pandemic,” he added. “It hurts to see stickers stuck on the seats to make sure audience members sit with a seat away in between them. It’s sad to see them in the theater wearing masks. But I believe the show must go on.”
Producer Kim Jong-heon, who co-produced the play with Jeongdong Theater said it is “indeed a miracle to stage a play amid the pandemic, and to gather together such a star-studded cast and production team.”
“I’ve known actor Song for nearly 20 years now and seen him achieving great feats as a producer like taking ‘Nanta’ to Broadway and heading the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games as the executive creative director,” said Kim.
“But watching him in a rehearsal room playing Sir as an actor, I want to say that the stage is where he belongs and that he gives me chills.”
Jeongdong Theater decided to launch an annual project which stages a play by focusing on one actor from this year.
The theater picked Song as the first runner, who thought it’s about time that he resumes his acting career by taking on the role of an old man.
Song is the man behind the popular non-verbal percussion show “Nanta.”
Actors Ahn Jae-wook and Oh Man-seok will alternate the role of Norman while actors Jeong Jae-eun and Bae Hye-seon will alternate the role of Her Ladyship, who is Sir’s wife.
BY YIM SEUNG-HYE [email@example.com]
“The Dresser” kicks off on Nov. 18 and runs until Jan. 3. Tickets cost 70,000 won ($61). The play will begin at 8 p.m. on weekdays and at 2 p.m. and at 6:30 p.m. on Saturdays. There are no shows on Sundays. For more information, visit www.jeongdong.or.kr.