Dohyun Gracia Shin
[Theatre Review] Sonyeo-ga (A Song of a Girl) Presented by National Changgeuk Company of Korea 본문
[Theatre Review] Sonyeo-ga (A Song of a Girl) Presented by National Changgeuk Company of KoreaGracia Shin 2018. 3. 29. 17:29
Sonyeo-ga (A Song of a Girl). Book by Jaram Lee. Directed by Jaram Lee. Jayu Theatre, Seoul Art Centre, Seoul, Korea. 28 February 2018 ~ 4 March 2018.
National Changguek Company of Korea inaugurated its newly-launched project “Different Angle on Changgeuk” with a premiere of Jaram Lee’s Sonyeo-ga. This intriguing project indeed seems to present a different angle, examining the line-up of the creators: Jaram Lee and Taehyeong Kim, the rising directors of Korea. Considering that Changgeuk is often perceived to be an art of the tradition (which often resuscitates the already-told stories of the past e.g. Shimcheong-ga, Jeokbyeok-ga and many others), National Changgeuk Company’s attempt to engage with young rising directors seems to be an attempt of imbuing the ideas from another generation. Jaram Lee’s Sonyeo-ga represents itself as an exemplary case of this attempt, seeing and singing (ga) Changgeuk from a girl’s (sonyeo)’s perspective by women artists.
Seeing Changgeuk from a girl’s perspective
It's true. Director Lee also adapts the story from the French fable “Little Red Riding Hood” just as many other changgeuks adapt the already-told stories. However, what may be differently read in Sonyeo-ga is that she re-reads the story from her contemporary experience in Korea. Through the mouth of her peer artist Soyeon Lee, she tells a fable of a girl’s journey of realising her sexual desire. According to the creative team, a girl is no less than a just ordinary girl, who is not restricted to the social concept of “pristine” or “mysterious.” She is not also labelled as “assertive” or even “girl-crushing” as the norm of Korean society often names a coquettish girl with their own strong desire. This “ordinary” girl walks through the unknown wood, realising her desire through various experiences on her way. She never complies the words from the adults, who are already the part of the norm, but she follows the way of the fecund water, listening to her fellow women’s words. She observes, touches and feels her flower (which implies her genitals) in the flowerbed on her way to her grandma’s home. She even cannibalises her grandma’s meat as the wolf has offered to her. Wolf believes that she does not know anything but furtively, she is aware of everything—even that the meat is her grandma’s body! Through the cannibalism, she breaks the most radical taboo (or the norm) of the society—eating one’s family. As the red riding hood repetitively proclaims, she “[knows] everything,” choosing to break the norms by her own choice. She cleverly takes pleasures from her first sex with the wolf but chooses to stop when she is satisfied, controlling her own pleasure. She dumps away her iron dress, iron heels, corset and red riding hood which was a scarlet letter to her, which indicates that she is at her age to be sexualised. She runs through the wood back to her house, away, away from the wolf. Even though the wolf eagers to grab her fiery red hair, she bangs the door behind her, mocking the wolf’s assertive masculinity by singing the lyric: “I know everything.”
This collaborative work of three women artists (Director and playwright Jaram Lee, Dramaturgy Jihye Park and actor Soyeon Lee) opens up a new theme in Changgeuk from their own perspective, telling the fable of a girl from girls’ experience and perspective. This fresh attempt of changgeuk dashes with bare legs toward another possible future of Korean Changgeuk, which is the reason why this project “Different Angle of Changgeuk” leaves an expectancy of the next trip to another future of changgeuk that will be introduced with different perspectives of other rising artists.
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