With the chill of autumn sweeping the air, a bunch of choreographic performances and plays come on stage to fill in the heart of their fans. The 18th Seoul Performing Arts Festival (SPAF), the largest-ever international event of its kind in Korea, is scheduled from Oct. 7 to Nov. 4 at the Arko Art Center and the Daehakro Arts Theater in Seoul. This year’s theme is "reflection and prospection," under which a total of 22 innovative choreographic performances and plays will be showing. Eight countries, including Lithuania, Belgium, Serbia and France, are to join the festival.
○ Reflection throws light on the present
A series of plays during the festival depicts historically significant events from ancient through to modern days, putting spotlight on the sufferings and irregularities of times. Theater program director Lee Byung-hoon explained that the works illustrate the signs of the past and the future, looking back at the chaotic past days.
The opening performance is “The Bridge on the Drina,” the original work of which is a novel written by Nobel-winning writer Ivo Andrić. The performance is directed by Kokan Mladenović in collaboration with the 150-year-old Serbian National Theater. The director highlights the tragedies of human history, utilizing a mix of immersive live music, simplistic staging style, and cultural symbols.
Oskaro Korsunovo’s piece “The Seagull” is another magnet for audiences. He has become one of the most famous directors of Europe, beyond his home country, Lithuania, thanks to his contemporary interpretation of classics. Expectations are ever increasing that Anton Pavlovich Chekhov’s play will be creatively interpreted into his intellectual view, with the actors’ contributions on stage, to the exclusion of fancy staging design and climatic tools.
Other quality pieces with broad implications are ready to entice audiences, pointing out the dark side of modern history jammed with greed and avarice: “The Tristesses,” a Belgian political satirical drama featuring nationalism issues rising across Europe; and “At that time, Byeon Hong Rye,” the closing performance to be played by Korean theater company Haddangse, which was inspired by a murder incident that occurred in Busan in the 1930s.
○ Choreography extends to the future
Big fans of choreography can enjoy performances that are aided by cutting-edge technology to give the audiences a hint on what the future of performing arts will be like. “Pixel,” from France, represents the reality and cyberspace that are converged on stage thanks to minimal music and high-tech media technology. You can be fascinated by unexpected scenes playing out on a 3D tech-supported stage.
“B-boy Fiction Codename 815” broads the horizons of choreographic performing, with a combination of cutting-edge media arts and B-boying dance. Such latest technologies – holograms, laser beams and 3D media, help push the limitations of street dancing. “North Korea’s Dancing” by South Korean choreographer Ahn Eun-mi also catches the eye of audiences. The performance is scheduled next year in France. The choreographer provides freshly interpretative insight into North Korean choreography, which has been hidden in the shadows of taboos and curiosities.
Combined with the SPAF, the 14th Performing Arts Market in Seoul is held to help Korean artists make inroads overseas. Feminism-based play “Adam Smith,” “Yangban (aristocrat) Dance” – a contemporary interpretation of dance by aristocrats, and Swedish high-tech musical “I am Somebody” are among the 21 selected international and domestic pieces by competition. You can enjoy watching them at several performance centers in Seoul including Seoul Namsan Traditional Theater. Please refer to the website of SPAF - http://spaf.or.kr for further information.