MON, AUGUST 08, 2022
Geochang festival unites people, nature, theater in southern county
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Geochang festival unites people, nature, theater in southern county
  • By Korea.net
  • 승인 2022.07.30 00:58
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Drones in the sky on July 22 form the expression "Begin Again" at the opening ceremony of the 32nd Geochang International Festival of Theatre at Suseungdae in Wicheon-myeon Township of Geochang-gun County, Gyeongsangnam-do Province.
Drones in the sky on July 22 form the expression "Begin Again" at the opening ceremony of the 32nd Geochang International Festival of Theatre at Suseungdae in Wicheon-myeon Township of Geochang-gun County, Gyeongsangnam-do Province.

Despite a rain forecast for July 22, the afternoon that day at Suseungdae in Wicheon-myeon Township of Geochang-gun County, Gyeongsangnam-do Province, was sunny.

The endless sounds of cicadas and grass bugs were heard and a banner on the street lamp reading "The 32nd Geochang International Festival of Theatre" was waving from both sides.

Visiting Korea.net staff passed a stage built near the water, the venue of the opening ceremony, and entered the campground, where visitors were arriving and setting up tents. Parents and children played in the shallow waters of Suseungdae's valley to cool off from the summer heat.

At 3 p.m., a man carrying a cleaning handcart arrived at Shakespeare Plaza next to the stage. "Cleaning Hero Maroo," the festival's first example of fringe theater, or a performance held on the street with a stage or not, featured pantomime. 

The fringe theater performance "Cleaning Hero Maroo" on July 22 is held at Shakespeare Plaza as part of the opening ceremony of the 32nd Geochang International Festival of Theatre.
The fringe theater performance "Cleaning Hero Maroo" on July 22 is held at Shakespeare Plaza as part of the opening ceremony of the 32nd Geochang International Festival of Theatre.

The actor expressed through humorous expressions and gestures cleaning bathrooms and other situations. Without dialogue, he made the audience laugh and shout as he made flower petals with toilet paper or a bouquet of flowers with balloon sticks.

 

Many elementary school students were in the audience, and the sound of children's laughter stopped passersby on the street. The onlookers numbered two or three at first but jumped to about 20 by the end of the play.

Seo Hyeon-ji, a student at Changdong Elementary School who sang in the choir that performed at the opening ceremony, said, "This is my first time watching theater up close, so it feels more real and fun," adding, "It was actually easier to focus (on fringe theater) because it's short."

After the sun set and the heat subsided, more visitors began to gather. Seats around the waterfront began filling up with people before the opening ceremony. 

A traditional arts performance group from Geochang-gun County on July 22 performs pungmul (traditional folk music) at the opening ceremony of the Geochang International Festival of Theatre.
A traditional arts performance group from Geochang-gun County on July 22 performs pungmul (traditional folk music) at the opening ceremony of the Geochang International Festival of Theatre.

Lee Suk-jo, a resident of Hwangsan Village next to Suseungdae, said, "The festival was an annual neighborhood gala for Geochang-gun County residents but the COVID-19 pandemic stopped it. So you have no idea how glad I am to see it resume this year."

Lee Do-yeon, a third-year student at Geochang Theater High School, added, "The nature of the county has a unique beauty that cannot be found abroad," adding, "The audience can enjoy the performances at the Geochang International Festival of Theatre, which recounts life stories, within nature."

The opening performance "A Midnight Summer Night's Dream in Geochang" was rich like the geochang (grand) part of its name. The events on the water stage built in the middle of the valley began with pungmul (traditional folk music) street performances. Giving the festival an exciting start, the troupe played traditional folk music while walking in a procession around the village prior to traditional folk games or town exorcism. 

This scene is from "A Midnight Summer Night's Dream in Geochang," the opening performance of the 32nd Geochang International Festival of Theatre.
This scene is from "A Midnight Summer Night's Dream in Geochang," the opening performance of the 32nd Geochang International Festival of Theatre.
A choir comprising children and adult residents of Geochang-gun County sing at the opening ceremony of the 32nd Geochang International Festival of Theatre.
A choir comprising children and adult residents of Geochang-gun County sing at the opening ceremony of the 32nd Geochang International Festival of Theatre.

The hourlong performance included pansori(traditional lyrical opera), musicals, plays, percussion music and other works in marking a new beginning for the festival, the first in four years. 

 

The program conveyed a message of hope for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic and a smooth return to everyday life. The night sky over Suseungdae was covered with fireworks and drones to form expressions like "Theater," "Begin Again" and "Happy Era."


About 3,000 people attended the ceremony including VIPs like Geochang-gun County Mayor Koo In-mo, actor Park Sang-won, chairman of the event's organizing committee, and Rep. Kim Taeho as well as the heads of the region's culture and arts organizations, theater actors and spectators.

"Every summer, Geochang-gun County is widely known as the site of an annual summer festival of outdoor theater where nature, people and theater become one," Mayor Koo said. "By developing a theater arts complex in the Suseungdae area, we will make our county the venue of a world-class performing arts festival."


Chairman Park, who starred in famous TV series such as "Sandglass" (1995) and "The Legend" (2007), said, "Geochang-gun is as beautiful place as any outdoor performance hall in the world."

He asked visitors to enjoy a "midnight summer's dream" at the 15-day festival from July 22 to Aug. 5 in the Suseungdae area.

Rep. Kim, whose constituency is the region, said, "The Geochang International Festival of Theatre is like a butterfly that was unable to fly over the past four years because it hit dew, but I'm excited since its wings have dried enough to allow brisk flight."

Actor Park Sang-won, chairman of the festival's organizing committee, gives a welcoming speech at the 32nd Geochang International Festival of Theatre's opening ceremony.
Actor Park Sang-won, chairman of the festival's organizing committee, gives a welcoming speech at the 32nd Geochang International Festival of Theatre's opening ceremony.

Held under the theme "Begin Again" (a different world, passion of dreaming)," the festival features 56 groups from eight countries doing a combined 75 performances including fringe theater. In addition to the performances, many side and interactive events will appeal to men and women of all ages throughout the festival period.

 

Seven free theatrical performances will be held at Geochang Cultural Center in the village of Jangpal-ri in the town of Geochang-eup.

Tickets can be purchased on the festival's official website (http://www.kift.or.kr) or at the ticket booth in Suseungdae.


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