September 8th, 2010
Originally we were scheduled to visit 양주별산대 Yangju Byeolsandae at lunch time, however the schedule was changed to 3pm, making my housewarming party on Wednesday suddenly seem like a bad idea.
I met Kathy and we took the long subway ride out to Yangju, where the 회장님 Director of the troupe met us at the station and drove us to their center, it would have been more than a ten minute walk on country roads, we were not in the city anymore! The facility was amazing, totally worthy of envy. Their stage was large, the seating spacious, with a central 마당 madang and a raised stage (so they could incorporate different sorts of performances), and a roof made appropriately for sound quality (not like the roof at Seoul Noli Madang). This theatre was attached to a building with central lobby, offices (multiple full time office workers!), a practice room (large, high ceilings!), and upstairs we were told there was a VIP reception area. The rest of the facility included a dorm with kitchen for visiting college clubs and what not, a school for traditional arts/Yangju Byeolsandae teaching programs (hosting over 14,000 students between now and the end of December in various programs!) and an exhibition hall with old masks, the earliest photos, a time line of the art, certification documents from when they become certified as a national intangible cultural asset and similar items. The Human Treasure met us in the office and we sat with one of the staff members the director and the Human Treasure and I helped Kathy make her plea for items for her exhibition. Then we went to the practice room, it turns out they have these wooden practice masks, that really from the front are identical to the traditional masks. They were willing to loan (free of charge) two to Kathy, and sold her a top and a belt that would go with one of them (for a reasonable price). Later they will forward some photos that show both characters together in costume in performance, but the costume of the second character was much too expensive to consider lending, usually it costs around 1,500 USD to make one. This was amazing good fortune for Kathy for her exhibition and she was very pleased as we returned to Seoul.
I rushed to buy some things and prepare for my housewarming, arriving home at the same time as the first guest (who was early). The guests were 지수 Jisu, 경호 Gyeongho, 경진 Gyeongjin, 현경 Hyeon'gyeong (Hyun from UCLA Musicology), Ian, Aniko and 회정 Hoijeong. After we’d finally eaten dinner (Jisu helped a lot, since I was so late to start cooking) my landlady also came upstairs and joined us as we ate fruit and drank juice and cold tea. It was a really fun time, I am so lucky to have so many amazing friends (all swear they spent less than 10,000 won on presents but I now have lots of fabric softener, fruit, a new towel and a big Starbucks mug).
Photos by Karjam