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Joseon Dynasty Version of Gag Concert

Posted September. 22, 2003 23:15,   


Tyrant Yeonsan, a notorious king in Joseon Dynasty, is repeatedly depicted in TV series and theater plays. Wooin Theater has made a theater play about the notorious king again. `Yi` is, however, not a play about history and politics. It puts focus on the relationship between Yeonsan and a court clown.

`Yi` refers to the title the king used to call a high-ranking official of level 4 or above. Court clown Gong-gil was a man living in the time of Yeonsan and called `Yi` by the king. Loved by the ill-natured king, the clown climbed to the level-4 position, leading an agency of court clowns.

Gong-gil is a real-life figure, but the story is fictitious – the clown has a homosexual relationship with the king, the play assumes. Once having the taste of power, Gong-gil seeks after more power and falls into a trap set by jealous Jang Nok-su. He barely saves his life thanks to his friend Jang-sang, who was killed instead of him, and he realizes the true role of the clown. He then stages his last performance criticizing the tyrant and kills himself.

The show introduces an ancient theatrical court play at that time, called `Sohak Jihi,` which comprises jesting and acrobatic tricks. It can be seen as an ancient version of Gag Concert.

`Yi,` first staged back in 2000, was awarded `the theater play of the year` by the Korea Theater Plays Association and named `the best theater play` by Donga Ilbo in 2001. Director Kim Tae-woong, known as 386-generation star in the theater play, creates a play that touches the audience`s heart as well as make them laugh. ˝This time, we will depict characters more delicately and introduce a variety forms of court play,˝ said Kim.

Cast: Oh Man-seok, Kim Nae-ha, Lee Seung-hoon and Jin Gyeong. From October 2 through November 2 in Jeongdong Theater, 7:30 p.m. from Tuesday through Sunday. Tickets are sold for 20,000 to 30,000 won. For further inquiries, call 02-751-1500.

Sung-Won Joo swon@donga.com