October 8th, 2010
My morning Seoul National University class was even better than before. The professor is sometimes a little off the mark (as in her understanding of Korean history has been understandably colored by being trained only in Korea by in many cases nationalistic scholars), but she’s super knowledgeable, and I enjoy talking with her. The problem is that the rest of the students are half asleep and say NOTHING. Actually some are only occasionally awake (at least no one snored). If they engaged with the material I’d believe they were in graduate school, seriously, it’s embarrassing. This was a problem during my MA at Yonsei, too. Do they expect information to be spoon-fed to them? The passivity of learning is just phenomenal.
I took a nap in the afternoon and then went to the performance of 북청사자놀음 Bukcheong Saja Noleum in 풍류극장 Pungryu Theatre, which is on the first floor of the Intangible Cultural Properties Training Center that houses both Bukcheong and Bongsan Talchum among other arts. I paid for a ticket, despite knowing how to get in for free (and knowing that no one would challenge my right to be there), because I feel bad about the situation that’s cropped up. This year they decided to charge 5,000 per ticket but they didn’t do any extra advertising and last year’s standing room almost non-existent has become this year a half empty theatre (and it’s a small theatre).
The performance was awesome, Bukcheong is so different from the other mask dance dramas. I actually wrote detailed notes, in abridged form:
The performance began with a short, educational but fairly general intro by the theatre staff. Then most of the dancers danced in and out again after circling the stage. At last the Yangban is dragged onto stage by his servant, they talk and the Yangban says to bring music, so the servant calls the musicians onto stage.
The musicians were on 징jing (one person) and 북 buk (one person) and 통소 tongso (four people). They stood to the back and side of the stage, they do not wear masks (like 양주별산대) or flower hats (like 풍물 pungmul performers wear), but have exposed faces, a headband (of the type worn under a mask) and exposed heads. Next the Yangban wants dancers and 한삼 hansam (sleeve extension) dancers come out (exposed faces but wearing hoods), then knife dancers (exposed faced men with no hoods, 지훈 Jihoon was the leader of the two and cued the other guy as to what to do). Next two 소고 sogo dancers (both in men’s clothing, although they were women) and two older women in hoods and hanbok with 한삼 hansam came out. The following act was Jihoon and his partner back again with the two little children dancing on their shoulders. This was followed by the dance of the physically retarded hunch-backed woman (how would that ever go over in the US?), one of the highlights and one of the only other masked characters. After another dance by the married women in 한복 hanbok and hoods the lions finally come out. The lions were great, after the lion who ate the rabbit gets sick a monk chants for him and an acupuncturist comes out with needles (metal chopsticks). There was a final bow and then they taught the lion dance to anyone who wanted to learn, I did and go to dance the backside of the lion (manipulating the tail). The costume wasn’t as heavy or uncomfortable as I had worried it would be.
Photo- actually from Andong, but this is one of the same lions!