Sunday, January 30, 2011

Final Performance at the Goseong Ogwangdae Intensive

January 29th, 2010

I woke at 7 and made a huge batch of 뒨장찌게 bean paste stew and salad (green cabbage base with strawberries in it). After breakfast everyone changed into 민복 minbok and headed to the main hall. I hung back a bit to clean up, then to meet Heike, a friend of mine who was teaching at ANU when I went there for a conference in 2005. She is now teaching at Gyeongsang University (in Jinju) running their international studies section (and teaching politics). Just like last week the performance started with a 고사 gosa ceremony, with 이재훈 Yi Jaehun talking the students through the process. The mixed team performed first, and the 말뚝이 Malddugi needed to be cued repeatedly and screwed up the dance a bit, the monk's dance performer also got lost several times in the choreography. The KNUA students did a great job, but it wasn't as much fun as the first performance because they didn't make a lot of funny mistakes. However there were a ton of wardrobe malfunctions. Masks coming off, pants that fell down, ties that came untied. 정우 Jeong-u needed to be cued on his part (원양반 Won Yangban), too.

After the performance we had lunch, Heike joined us before checking out the mask dance museum and going back to Jinju. That was followed by a large amount of cleaning to get the space back into good shape before we left. I took several loads to the main building, and used the opportunity to talk to the teachers and others there. Gave 이윤석 Yi Yunseok a solid good-bye, gave my card to 영욱 Yeong'uk from "The Gwangdae" and Daecheon. Hugged Changyeol, relieved that I only have to wait until Saturday to see him. I love him, he's totally awesome. As soon as Karjam comes back I'm inviting him and his girlfriend, 세정 Sejeong, over for dinner. It was sad to leave. As soon as we got on the bus most of the students fell asleep. Before we were halfway to Seoul, it was snowy and freezing. At the rest stops I could hardly manage to get to the building and back on the bus, and remarked that we should turn around and head back to Goseong.

We reached KNUA campus around 8, and I took the long subway ride home, stopping at the bakery and the market on the way up the hill as I couldn't stomach the idea of leaving home again that evening.

January 30th, 2011

I stayed home and transferred audio and photo files, labeling and editing. Please look back over the last two weeks worth of entries to see photos inserted in the next day or two.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Last Day of Rehearsals for Week 2

January 28th, 2011
I felt pretty under the weather, especially in the morning, despite the ginger tea and the vitamin C I've been eating.

I don't know if I should say that I am unlucky today, or to say that I had two very close calls. First in the afternoon practice session for Act 3 (Bibi), 희수 Heesu, in the excitement of the moment, managed to knock over my tripod and video camera (which was on the lowest height possible) (I was using my camera at that moment, but the video was still recording). The tripod broke, one leg completely snapped off--which honestly is crappy construction because Heesu didn't hit it hard. But the tripod cost a tiny fraction of what the video camera, which was completely unscathed, cost. Then less than an hour later, after afternoon practice was mostly done, I was interviewing 이윤석 Yi Yunseok (the Human Treasure, so this is like the MOST important interview here) and my voice recorder batteries died. But I noticed it. I may have lost as much as 15 minutes. But I recorded more than 30 minutes on the new batteries, including going back and trying to ask the first questions in a different way (to the extent possible without taking up too much of Yi's valuable time).

Otherwise, in the morning we had practice which was essentially talking people through Act 2 (Yangban), and then having them actually run through it. There was a huge difference between the KNUA team and the other team, even though many of the performers have changed (most, except 민기 Min'gi is still the key character of 말뚝이 Malddugi (though the other key character of 원양반 Won Yangban was 기영 Giyeong and now it's 정우 Jeong-u). They saw it last week, and they had a very good idea of what to do (and had also, when needed talked about it among themselves). The contrast with the other team was extreme. After lunch the same thing continued, but with more rehearsal of Act 3 and a group run through of both Act 1 and Act 4. The entire day was supervised by 전광열 Jeon Gwangyeol. At the end of the afternoon practice 하현갑 Ha Hyeon'gap performed the monk's dance in clothes but no mask and 대천 Daecheon and 창열 Changyeol ran through Bibi to everyone's delight.

At lunch time I walked to town again, they would have made curry for me without the meat in it, but I've never been a fan of Korean curry mix. I bought a coffee for Min'gi and set it out in the main hall with a note written by the office manager on it, but I think they still figured out it was me. Oh well. I tried. (This is because I drew his name and have to do nice things for him). But because they figured out it was me, I have to do his final day of cleaning while he relaxes (according to the rules, anyway). I also bought a side dish for tomorrow's breakfast, partially because it was good, and partially because of SBS coming back, but then they called and said they're not coming back. I'm actually really relieved. I just don't have the energy. If they were coming back they'd be here during evening rehearsal. Which would make it harder to do interviews and stuff. I interviewed 최영호 Choi Yeongho before the morning class and 경진 Gyeongjin before dinner, then like I said Yi Yunseok, and later I interviewed Daecheon and then 이재훈 Yi Jaehun, who is a 전수교육조교 2nd ranked (below human treasure) member of the group. Sometime during that interview my voice recorder ran out of room, we were talking until midnight, I hope I got most of it.

The evening practice was just more and more run throughs for both groups (except 윤만 Yunman was sick so he couldn't run through his scene and 솔지 Solji from the drama group 북재통 substituted for him. After the last rehearsal I was interviewing but when I finished that I learned we were having a big 뒤풀이 duipuli with everyone there. The KNUA students didn't bring anything (alcohol or food) which was embarrassing, but I wasn't there long, anyway. Shortly after I got there 황종욱 Hwang Jong'uk made an appearance, he sat with me and we talked about how to improve festivals and performance environments, we may (at least he said we would, but let's see if it happens) go to 안동 Andong together and talk to those guys about what needs to change, how to improve the festival. Then Changyeol fetched Hwang and told me to come and meet them at our place, which I did after a few minutes. We drank and every member gave their little wrap up of the experience speech. I went to bed at 2:00 because I had to wake up to make breakfast in the morning.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Being Filmed by SBS

January 27th, 2011
I woke up fairly easily (since I felt like I had never gotten into a deep sleep all night) and shook 민기 Min'gi awake so that he could make breakfast (I didn't even bother to try with 혜미 Haemi who is on today's cooking crew, too. It's just not going to happen).

After breakfast when I got to the training center the SBS TV crew was already there. We had our morning class in the Mask Dance Museum (on the second floor), the whole time with the TV camera practically right in my face, or on the floor right under my feet. It was a bit stressful (to say the least). 전광열 Jeon Gwangyeol came to teach us, but didn't talk a lot, I was a bit disappointed about that. At one point Daecheon had the two who will perform on the last day and then me dance in the center of the circle, while holding the real stick, instead of just a little bamboo wand. I did amazingly well (it was hard to follow other's motions from that position) and was very proud of myself, although suddenly using the heavy and long stick was kind of odd. I went to lunch with the TV crew (and 창열 Changyeol) because the lunch for the students was going to be meat. After lunch we sat in the freezing cold main hall and they interviewed me for about 75 minutes without a break. It was so hard. I always doubt my vocabulary at moments like that. Not to mention every other aspect of my Korean. But they kept asking me questions I knew the answer to and had a lot of opinions about.
"Why don't Korean like traditional arts?"
"Uh, Koreans don't even know traditional arts, if they ever watched them with an open mind they'd probably like them a lot."

For afternoon practice, even though it was much colder than yesterday we went back to the quay we practiced on yesterday. My hands got really cold and my leg muscles started freezing up, but it was really awesome, it was sunny (which it hadn't seemed all day, it was only sunny after we got to the ocean, I swear) and a bit breezy and after practicing as a group we had to break down, first three at once, followed by a period of 안대천 An Daecheon helping us with our weak spots, then we had to do it two at a time. I did it was 혜미 Haemi and did pretty well. As we were going to leave Jeon showed up with 호떡 cinnamon sugar stuffed rice pancakes for everyone. We ate them with great relish, then went back to the same place we had snacks the day before and had 막걸리 makgeolli with 떡볶이spicy rice noodles and 오뎅 boiled fish cakes.

The SBS people left (they'll be back tomorrow evening) and I interviewed Changyeol then fell asleep out of pure physical exhaustion. For dinner suddenly Hwang Jong'uk informed us that he'd be taking us all out to dinner, which he did, at a meat buffet. Literally you picked up all the different types of raw meat and grilled it on the table. I had pumpkin rice soup and a lot of 김밥 kimbap, as that was about all that I could eat. It was very very generous of him, taking 25 people (24 other people, because he took out some instructors and all the "The Gwangdae" members as well as us) out to dinner like that was definitely not cheap.

Our group is playing a new game of sorts: at lunch we all drew a name, then the first mission was to send that person a text message. We can't let them or anyone know we drew them, though. Of course since I only had two people's phone numbers, I got someone else. At dinner I went around and got almost everyone's numbers, then sent a lot of text messages to disguise who was my actual person (Min'gi). I still have no idea who drew my name.

Inseon and Minji sat across from me at dinner:

In the evening after dinner everyone assembled in the main building, with Act 5 rehearsing in the small practice room downstairs and the rest upstairs. Changyeol ran through Act 3 (Bibi) with the people who will perform this week, teaching them how to say the dialectical dialogue and where to accent it, as well as stage blocking. A little later 황종욱 Hwang Jong'uk came upstairs and oversaw practice, drumming and calling out directions while having a conversation with 혜미 Haemi at the same time. His running commentary exposed his opinion of the motion execution as the 문둥춤 Mundung Dance crew rehearsed the motions in a large circle. The dance is that of a leper with a fair amount of disease progression, showing his hardship and frustration with his physical condition, which at the end of the dance he overcomes enough to actual express joy. I'd learn it, but there is a hint to me, in some of the motions of a very non-PC making fun of the person with the degenerative disease. It especially feels that way when people can't do it very well and they sort of overdo it.

After Hwang watched the four individual dances (not the Old Wife, who is rehearsing with the Act 5 group downstairs), two sets of dancers at a time, he ordered those who would do the final performances to dance, starting with the 말뚝이 Malddugi dancers. The guy who will dance for the other group is really hopeless, both as a dancer and as a memorizer of the set of motions. Oh well. It's not chosen according to who is the best, because if it was, you'd see the repeat students often learning the same thing again and then dancing that for the final performance based on experience, whereas the stress of preparing for the final performance will give some of these younger first year/first time students a huge leg up once they get back to their universities and practice with this groups. Next the 원양반 Won Yangban people came out. Then 승무 monk's dance (the key people in the outer robe so that they could experience the very long sleeves). Last of all was the Mundung dance group. When everyone finished Hwang said "some people are of course better than others. Some work harder. But you need to look in the mirrors and see your motion and try to figure out how to improve your own motion, so that you can do it without looking in the mirror in the future. Read the dialogue and think about the meaning behind the dance and the characters. Why do the rhythmic patterns change, the whole piece shouldn't be exactly the same energy, put the energy in the right place. The dance is important, but the dialogue and stage blocking is also important. If you don't know what it means, you need to ask someone, because you'll never make it come out right, otherwise. Okay? Today watching you guys I can't give you 30 out of 100. You still have a long way to go. Some of you don't even remember the order of motions yet. Tomorrow, practice all day so we can have a good final performance. You understand? You really need to make the motions right with the mirror. If you are uncomfortable with how you look, how do others feel when they watch you? Don't just look at the KNUA students, you're not the same, you should do it your way. 헐!" (Heol is this slang thing these days, it was funny that Hwang said it, although a bit misplaced, according to my understanding.) Then we all bowed and that was the end of the practice.

Back at our rooms another 뒤풀이 duipuli began even though I don't think there was one student who really wanted to drink. The reason for the evening was that the old 조교 jogyo (kind of like a TA but they never teach, just run professorial errands and make copies and answer phones and stuff) had come to see how the students were doing. I made ginger tea and went to sleep pretty early (1:30), but during the night the heat never came back.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Practicing by the Ocean

January 26th, 2010
I forgot to mention that last night the instructors told the KNUA students which parts they were doing, more or less, for the performance in April. In some cases they are still deciding between two or even three people, but they told each who needed to practice for which role (although sometimes it's more than one person). For example, 윤만 Yunman has to practice the monk's dance, and 인선 Inseon will not be the old wife, but probably 준영 Junyeong. Which I completely approve of, because it really is a funnier scene when a man plays the role. 민기 Min'gi will probably still do Malddugi.

I decided to do 말뚝이 Malddugi for my individual dance this time, instead of the monk's dance. I wanted to observe (and video-tape) a different teacher's style of teaching, for one thing, but then the normal teacher didn't show up, and instead we had the assistant (in this case 대천 Daecheon). And then the video-camera ran out of batteries after thirty minutes. I have no idea why, I plugged it in yesterday and it was charging, perhaps it was knocked out of the socket a little during the charging process. Such are the snags in my research, and if that's all they are, no sweat. The dance itself is highly energetic, the most energetic of the lead characters in 고성오광대 Goseong Ogwangdae. Malddugi leaps and spins a lot.

After lunch we met Daecheon again, but this time, it was so amazing I won't be able to put it into words—he took us to the ocean and we danced there. Mind you, I'm from an island. I am definitely happiest next to the ocean. We first checked out this hillside park (on a jutting point) where we took photos and these awesome grandmothers shared dried persimmons with us. (The response from one of the other recipients was "Wow, I love Goseong."), then although I had thought Daecheon was kidding, we really did practice on this quay, concrete jutting into the ocean with islands in the distance and sun glittering on the waves. It was cold and there was a light breeze, but it was absolutely invigorating and beautiful.

After we learned the entire dance (not that I remember it, it's really confusing and I'm not used to manipulating the horse-whip which is Malddugi's main prop, yet) we went to the traditional market and I treated everyone to mini-bananas and Daecheon bought us all snacks from the snack stall (순대 stuffed intestine, 오뎅 fish/flour cakes boiled in broth, and deep fried battered veggies and squid). Everyone bonded and decided it was really awesome to be the Malddugi team. On the way back to the van I bought a box of oranges (which Min'gi helpfully carried) for the KNUA students.

During the afternoon I got a series of phone calls from SBS. This was not the same team at SBS who has been talking to me about potentially coming to 임실필봉 Imshil Pilbong training center in two weeks, this was a team who had interviewed me in Andong in the fall. They decided they wanted to come here, talked to the office, and will be here tomorrow. I guess I should figure out what I want to wear, but considering how little I have with me, there are few choices.

After we were back at the training center I tried to find some instructor to interview but everyone was busy teaching the music for Goseong Ogwangdae classes (which I had decided not to do), so I ended up taking a photographic walk on the hill covered with tombs above the Mask Dance Museum and training center. I got good shots of the tall dead grasses in the late late afternoon sun.

After dinner (which was really good) I went to practice Malddugi's dance, especially since SBS is coming to film me tomorrow, which makes me nervous and liable to make more mistakes than normal. Min'gi helped a lot, since he performed part last week, he really has it down, or at least the order of the motions. We practiced for more than two hours, totally sweating, before we called it quits. 전광일 Jeon Gwangil bought ice cream for everyone (of course I didn't eat it, but it was sweet).

성범 Seongbeom has to go back to Seoul, so he came to say goodbye to the students and have a last drink together. He's a pretty serious guy, however, and he ended up sort of chiding the students, first of all because they keep not saying anything about the problems we’ve had with the boiler and it's always me who's saying something. Then he went off about certain people who've skipped classes (sickness or because of drinking and 정우 Jeong-u even had to miss the performance last week to go to a friend's wedding, which he missed because he left too late. At any rate, he did point out (as he said in his interview to me) that they don't actually dance that well, and they're beginning professionals, so they certainly should do better. I love his honesty, and it's good for the students, but it's hard to hear, too. At about the time he was leaving 창열 Changyeol appeared, in high spirits and at least half drunk. He proceeded to drink with the students who had the stamina to stay awake until 4 or so in the morning. I went down at 2, but it was a really bad night of sleep with very drunk people coming in and out, cooking and receiving phone calls (all night phones were ringing, I swear).

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Korea Loses to Japan (and we weep)

January 25th, 2010
In the morning it was almost impossible to wake people up. I let 기영 Gi-yeong who had been drinking the night before but was on my cooking crew sleep, and used 태환 Taehwan to do a few things (and wash dishes from the night's party) while I made bean paste stew and a large salad. When it was time to eat I had to start yanking blankets off people, and even that didn't get everyone to the table. One, 윤만 Yunman, basically slept all day. He claims it's also because he's sick, but I'd say the only sickness is due to over drinking, because he wasn't one of the sick-ish people yesterday. And if you were under the weather, you wouldn't stay up till 3 or 4 drinking.

Before practice started there were nine presentations:
1. A member of the theatre company sang (very well, traditional)
2. the five students from Jinju University of Education had prepared a mini-play, all choreographed. It was very funny
3. The drama people interviewed 이윤석 Yi Yunseok (the National Human Treasure), the funniest thing was the opening question "When did you first fall in love?" which he side-stepped with "when I was with the girl I first kissed." The interviewer used drum stick for a 징 jing, while the other member of the team pretended to wield a video camera.
4. Another theatre company member sang 판소리 pansori (but not the same person who sang pansori on Monday). 영호 Yeongho accompanied on the 장구 janggu. Almost all the songs are accompanied by the drumming of the teachers.
5. 정운 Jeong'un sang a funny (non-traditional) song
6. The students from Gyeongsang University sang a cute little song with a bit of choreography, but the only guy in the group didn't know either, so then he was told to do it on his own, which he couldn't.
7. This guy who is from 봉천놀이마당 Bongcheong Noli Madang (so is another woman who I think is his girlfriend) sang a song, but at first he couldn't remember it. He was good once he got going.
8. "The Gwangdae" leader 안대천 An Daecheon was forced to sing for the group. He sang the song in the character of a grandmother from 제주 Jeju Island.
9. Finally 성범 Seongbeom (who always runs these things) get 황종욱 Hwang Jong'uk in the hotseat. He tries to leave the room, but is forced to sing.

Morning practice wrapped up the entire basic motion set, at lunch time we made vegetable fried rice and served it with left over soup. All this cooking was making it hard for me to find time to do interviews, although while preparing dinner (kimchi stew and 감자전potato jeon) I multi-tasked and interviewed Gi-yeong at the same time (I had her talk and I cut and chopped and washed and stirred). I'm glad that my cooking is done till Saturday breakfast.

Afternoon practice was 덧뷔기춤 deotbuigi chum and then our big group test to see if we'd mastered everything. I videotaped the session and I felt like I did a great job at the dance. I think I finally do have the entire basic motion set (and deotbuigi) memorized, although I haven't taken the time to do it on my own to check. The group dancing was a huge high, everyone was sweating and waving their hands in the air at the end as even Yi Yunseok joined us in celebration.

After dinner we all practiced again, reveling in our ability to perform the motions, as yet untroubled by the struggle to memorize the 개인무 gae-in mu that we would face the next day. I interviewed 김성범 Kim Seongbeom and later conducted a partial interview with 황종욱 Hwang Jong'uk which was very difficult because of his extensive use of regional dialect and extremely fast speech (Seongbeom also talks very quickly but because he uses standard Korean I could follow along without any difficulty). In fact, I am usually not troubled by dialect in the경상 Gyeongsang region, since I lived in Daegu for more than seven years, but Hwang is really extreme, and not just in accent and verb endings (which I understand and even speak with) but also in the use of dialectical alternative vocabulary, which I often don't know, or cannot remember. At any rate Hwang (and I) were freezing, so we'll continue the interview later.

Back at our place the Korea-Japan semifinal (Asian Cup) game was on, which tragically despite a goal in the 15th minute of the 15 minute overtime (tying the match) we did not win because the shootout went horribly wrong. The students and a few from the drama troupe and the two from Bongcheon Noli Madang all sat and drank beer and ate fried chicken through the game. Not long after (but well past 1 a.m.) I decided to go to sleep. All the rooms were frozen, the floor never heated up in any location during the night.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

We Start Basic Motions (for the second week)

January 24th, 2010
I cannot emphasize enough how sweet these KNUA kids are. If you were a solid group of students all from one major, how would you feel is someone nearly 20 years older than you, with no real connection to your school was suddenly hanging around? But these kids—I haven't even asked and they've adjusted to making all major dishes either vegetarian or cooking the meat on the side. They're unfailingly polite and interested. They're helpful to my research, they explain things I don't understand carefully, they're an absolute credit to their families and to their university. Not one has any sort of diva-esque behavior that you might expect with kids from a performing arts department, yet they evince much more independent thought and behavior than many Korean college kids that I know. Last night 정운 Jeong-un and ONLY Jeong-un went and rehearsed the 개인무 individual dance she'd learned last week (말뚝이 Malddugi). 경진 Gyeongjin decided to go to the mini-mart (twenty minutes walk each way) at midnight. She didn't need someone to go with her. And they come up with quite individual stuff to say. I wait to see how individual their interviews will end up.

After breakfast we headed to the big hall, where we started with an opening ceremony again, much like the previous week. After that each group was told to present something (everyone presented songs) and the quality of the singing was just amazing, the 판소리 pansori specialist from the theatre troupe sang, as did 혜미 Haemi (I learned when interviewing her before lunch that she in fact started singing 민요 minyo under the tutelage of relatives who are 경기민요 Gyeonggi Minyo preservation association members when she was not yet in elementary school), and some of the other students presented a pop song by Girl's Generation (with movement). 동수 Dongsu sang as well. This week the (all of the?) other members of "The Gwangdae" showed up. This is a team headed by 대천 Daecheon but also including 창열 Changyeol and 영호 Yeongho, it used to include 고석진 Go Seokjin and perhaps others of the Goseong guys as well, but everyone gets busy and what not. At any rate, it's a traditional performing arts troupe, and these other members who have shown up are not preservation association members, but they do seem fairly conversant with the motions already, based on what I saw today. These members also sang.

After all that was done, we divided into two groups and each group did their basic motions, the theatre troupe made up the bulk of the other group. 이윤석 Yi Yunseok, the national human treasure, taught us with a lot of explanation, and his normal barking/shouting exclamations (which I think people just find interesting and fun after they get over the initial shock). One thing he said today that I think he's said before but I made special note of it is "신명은 불림타고 나온다" or "The joyful expression of feelings (shinmyeong) arrives via calling out the starting song (bullim)." Actually that's still a very rough translation, I know exactly what it means in Korean, but it's hard to express since shinmyeong is a very complex term and it's all very cultural. At any rate, when you start the basic motions (and all the other mask dance dramas have bullim, too) you call out some words to start, with 고성오광대 Goseong Ogwangdae it's "산 좋고, 물 좋고 어절씨구 좋다." Which means roughly speaking "The mountain is good, the water is good, it's all good." So we have to call this out with proper accent (and the motions correspond with the accent—when the tone is rising up, our arms are rising) and then we begin the motion set. There is one other time during the basic motion set that there is bullim, at almost the end. "아이 좋다 아이 좋다 어절씨구 좋다." Or even more roughly speaking "Ah, it's good, ah, it's good, it's all good." But mind you this is a –very—exciting point in the dance, so it's basically when your motions are not enough of a celebration, when your chest is breaking with a need to express EVEN MORE than you can do through joyful dancing, then you are crying out (in concert with everyone else). It's a fairly amazing feeling, even more amazing when you do the basic motion set without a break 3 or 4 times in a row.

Lunch and then more dancing, again with Yi teaching us and then Dongsu practicing the motions. Dongsu always puts much more emphasis on motion and less on explanation, so we end up practicing a lot more times. Afterwards we had yoga again, the same teacher but he had us try to do some sort of lying down meditation thing, and I swear everyone fell asleep, it was pretty funny because at the end we all sat up, except two people, 만희 Manhee and 정운 Jeong'un, who just kept sleeping as the yoga teacher wrapped up the class.

After yoga I went to the market with 민지 Minji and 가은 Ga'eun, where we bought the supplies needed for the next two or three days worth of meals. I spent some of my own money to buy a few things to make the food for my team (tomorrow) just a little bit more special.

Back at our place almost everyone was in the men's room, reveling in the hot floor, wrapped up in blankets. As usual there was someone who wanted to see what was on the TV (in the unheated main room) and there were a few people assisting or at least talking with the cooking team. It was all very relaxing.

In the evening practice we followed along with Dongsu for an hour, then the groups split up. Changyeol led a group of the KNUA students through the basic motions while I made notes. "Stop being so soft and floaty. It's a male dance. Use your shoulders (dramatic shoulder demonstration)." He'd move through a sequence of motions, maybe only 5 or 6 motions, then explain, then lead them again.His motions were strongly extended at times and very distinct in their placement. He would stop and do it in slow motion to demonstrate exactly how it had to be done. "Don't do it roughly somewhere around here (gestures) do it exactly like this (demonstrates)." He uses a confident, strong and slightly projecting voice to teach, but it is also kind and respectful. Jeong'un asks a question, and he answers calmly and authoritatively. "This, too, be careful if it's the back of your hands up or not." "Do this exactly, extend your arms on the diagonal completely." "See here how the hand rotates?" "This motion has to be accented right here, fooo-ur." "This is big and strong. Seeeeee-ven." When he slaps his knee for one motion it seems so hard it'll leave a bruise. "Step forward on this." "Make sure you're running the previous motion into the next motion." He stops working in the circle and has them all face the mirror behind him. "The flavor will come out if you do it like this (demonstrates)." The students clap, thanking him for his teaching. And they laugh with his demonstrations. "Find the feeling" he explains, "no matter if you're doing this or playing ggwaenggwari."

He tells me, "this is stuff they need to hear, because they're professionals, I wouldn't teach ordinary people like this" when he rejoins me after leading the practice. Then he goes back to teaching them, but from the chair this time. "Spread out, use both hands. Move the shoulder, tuuuu, see-ven eight, one… ha! Hoot!" "All the way to the end of your fingers, you need to be dancing with all of it." He counts to show the accent for the students as they continue. "Straighten your back." "Look what you're doing." Then he laughs and grins with someone who I presume is doing what he wants, as he gets a big grin in return. "With strength! Use your shoulders! Straighten! Foooo-ur! That's what I taught you! To the end of your arms! That's it." He gets out of his chair again. "You really have to practice the jumping motion a lot; you'll never get it right, otherwise."

While Changyeol is teaching the KNUA students, Daecheon is supervising the members of "The Gwangdae" who aren't Goseong Ogwangdae guys already, and correcting their motions, just the three of them. When the lesson ends, the three line up and bow to him, all together. Seongbeom leads a group of five women who are really unfamiliar with the dance through the motions, with many exclamations of "that's the way." Across the room another teacher, 김재명 Kim Jaemyeong, is busy teaching a group of around fifteen students.

After the practice we had 뒤풀이 duipuli until late into the night at our place. First 솔기 Solgi, the graduate of KNUA who is with the theatre troupe came and we were all having 김치전 Kimchijeon and drinking either 막걸리 makgeolli or 소주 soju, later Changyeol showed up as well. I went to sleep when I got tired, but I gather that was several hours before the rest.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Back to Goseong

January 23rd, 2010
I woke up at Georgy and 진홍Jinhong's house and made Georgy pancakes (Jinhong had already left to help his parents in the run up to the big 설날 Seollal holiday, since their shop makes traditional foods that are widely consumed at the holiday). Before leaving I had lunch, too, which was really only a couple hours after breakfast.

My timing was good for the bus back to 고성 Goseong (a two hour trip, as the bus stops at other towns on the way) and I arrived before the group took off to see the ocean. I rode in the van with 창열 Changyeol. He's still a little under the weather. It's exhausting to run these camps (or participate) since it means being on the clock from 8 or so in the morning until 2 or after in the morning day after day. During the day off, they weren't exactly idle. 성범 Seongbeom had to drive to 부산 Busan to get more supplies needed by the training center, for example. It was getting dark, but we drove along the long inlet until we finally got near the edge of the sea. We stopped one time to play on the rocks next to the ocean, and in a little town we bought snacks and instant noodles which were consumed on a quay as a bitter wind whipped up. They'd also bought a few bottles of soju which they quickly consumed.

At 8, just a little after we returned, we met up with all the other students for the week and everyone introduced themselves. Almost all the new students are women, there were only two men. About twenty of the new students are a single theatre group who has all come here together. That's interesting.

I spent a bit of time on the computer and then hung out with the lower level instructors who were in the tent, but not grilling meat. 영호 Yeongho, who I have also met before and is another of these guys that's one year above Changyeol, has returned to Goseong for the week (with his wife and 20 month old daughter). 대천 Daecheon's wife and daughter also appeared, I can only presume the three plus two infants drove down together. Yeongho said something about driving the entire time.

At our "home" the floor of the women's room refused to heat up, and finally it was decided that everyone would sleep in the same room, the men's room, so we all had a lot less elbow/knee room for the night. I lucked out, even though I wasn't the first one going to sleep, and managed to get one of the four corners. The floor in that room was so hot, it was almost hard to sleep. If I'd ever woken up fully during the night I would have moved my blankets under me to insulate me.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Performance for Week 1

January 22nd, 2010
I woke up extra early and made pancakes for everyone. There was also kimchi stew that 민기 Min'gi made, so some people ate a lot of pancakes and some just had a taste while sticking to more conventional Korean food. The pancakes were so popular that Min'gi even wrote down complete recipe and directions while others paid attention and seemed to be trying to just memorize it (it's easy, really, since it's 1 cup of (soy) milk, to 1 egg, to one cup of flour, plus baking soda and vinegar, stir and fry).

Before the performances began we had a 고사 gosa ceremony to bless the masks and the performers and performance space. 이재훈 Yi Jaehun, one of the jeonsugyoyuk jogyo (2nd ranked) oversaw the preparations and lectured the students on how to perform the ceremony properly. He is a total character, and normally dances the part of the old wife. The altar was set up at one end of the room with fruit, dried fish, snacks, candles, etc. on it (no boiled pig's head which would be a lot of expense for just a student performance without much of an audience). The officiants were talked through the ceremony (pouring 막걸리 makgeolli, lighting incense, reading an address, etc.) by Yi and the rest of the group (all lined up facing the altar in white 민복 minbok (peasant garb which is worn under costumes for things like mask dance drama performances) bowed (head to the floorboards) when we were told to bow.

The mixed team performed first. There were a few snafus, but it wasn't bad at all, some of the scenes were quite good. I did notice, however, that the detailed explanation of how to act the part of the old wife that I had heard being given only to the KNUA old wife (인선 Inseon) by 김동수 Kim Dongsu the previous night, had definitely not been given to the mixed team old wife at some other time. Then the KNUA team performed, by the time they started even more of the teachers had arrived, at the high point there were perhaps 10 teachers in the room, although they also wandered back out during the performance so that the final act had less teachers than the third act did. It was well done, better by far than the mixed team. Large differences between the two teams included the fact that 경진 Gyeongjin had performed the monk's dance (originally it was supposed to be 가은 Ga'eun but she's rather short and the really long sleeves of the costume were dragging on the floor even when she held her arms straight out from her shoulders to the side, she claimed that she wasn't disappointed not to do it, though. Gyeongjin is an excellent dancer, she did a great job. The Bibi scene was also much better in terms of use of the environment- they didn't just run around in circles within the space allotted- the 양반 yangban character at one point hit behind me, for example. And I already mentioned that Inseon got special training on dialogue delivery for the old wife, and she did a good job utilizing what she'd been taught, a lot of which was to vary ways that repetitive things are said. Variation in delivery and variation in certain gestures allowed her character to come alive to a greater degree. The first and second scene, however, seemed to be about of equivalent caliber, especially the first scene which was performed by the 27 year-old office worker who had practiced Goseong Ogwangdae since she was in college and had been to the training center four or more times before.

Gosa Ceremony:




Old Wife:


After the performances ended there was a short ceremony with a speech by Yi Yunseok, then I directly walked to the bus station and left for 대구 Daegu. In Daegu I was able to relax with Georgy, eating a delicious dinner, talking a lot, washing every stitch of clothes I was wearing and so on.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Last Day of Rehearsals for Week 1

January 21st, 2011
In the morning people had a harder time than even before getting up, but some had to be in class even earlier than usual because of teacher availability. So they ended up eating breakfast after their rehearsal. I went over with the main group after breakfast and took video of the entire morning rehearsal which was when the teachers taught the blocking for the stage and how to interact with each other properly. Next week the KNUA students will need a different type of direction than they got today, so next week I'll probably only record them instead of both teams. At the end of the morning class the 승무 monk's dance group had to run through once, and I acquitted myself well. The best thing was that I had entire chunk (like a 30+ page chunk) of my dissertation arrive in my head totally planned out and everything. So excited! I love breakthroughs. Of course I still have work to do, including interviews and observation, and then there is the writing process, but I'm still really happy. Because I want my dissertation to not just be well researched, I also want it to be interesting to read, with engaging stand-alone sections.

Hwang Jong'uk:

After lunch there was more run through, except it was more about getting Act 1 off the stage, then Act 2 on properly and things like that, so the two complete performances wouldn't run on for hours. After rehearsal ended I skipped the late afternoon class (on drumming for the mask dance) and walked to town, where I bought everything to make pancakes for the students and a lot of fresh ginger, which I brewed into ginger tea for the people on the edge of getting sick. Actually 희수 Heesu seems to be full on sick, not on the edge. And I ordered창열 Changyeol to drop by for tea, too.

Daecheon (instructor for Malddugi):

Yi Jaehun (instructor for Act 5, especially the Old Wife)

Changyeol (instructor for Mundung Bukchum and Deotbuigi):

In the evening I talked to Karjam on Skype (he's doing very well) and watched the groups rehearsing (obviously quite nervous in some cases). Changyeol and I talked about next week, apparently 황종욱 Hwang Jong'uk, 안대천 An Daecheon and Changyeol will choose who should be which part for April and they will focus on that part for the next week.

After awhile I retired to the tent outside the main building where the lower level assistant instructors hang out (uhhh, guys, it's below freezing). The tent is huge, so we all sit around a grill on chairs with some heaters in the tent, too (but doors open on both sides), and they drink (but not 막걸리 makgeolli which they claim leaves too much of a hangover) and grill meat non-stop, just more and more meat. However there were also two squid and a bunch of oysters to eat last night, as well. The tent also has a zipped off bedroom area (large enough for sleeping four at least). As usual after hanging out in the tent, I smelled like smoke afterwards.

I intended to go to sleep early, but all the KNUA kids not drinking with the students from the other schools were playing cards and laughing and talking in the women's bedroom. Finally I fell asleep listening to them talk. I didn't mind that they were being noisy, they're such a sweet bunch of kids. Seriously, awesome.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Practicing for the Performance

January 20th, 2010
As the three designated cooked breakfast (most of) the rest of us headed to the main hall to clean it after the previous evenings' party. The moment I opened the door the smell of 막걸리 makgeolli hit us like a wave. The polished wooden floor was spotted with the residue of the milky drink.

After breakfast and the morning meeting we separated into the groups for each of the main parts (승무 the monk's dance, 말뚝이 Malddugi (the clever servant), 원양반 Won Yangban (the leader of the upper class gentlemen), 문둥 Mundung (the leper) and 큰어미 the old wife). Our group of 13 plus the driver packed into a vehicle designed to seat 9. We went downtown to practice in a community center, but it turned out there was a previous schedule there and we had to come back again to the Mask Dance Museum. The community center was interesting, though. In addition to the room we were supposed to rehearse in, there were a lot of rooms we didn't see, but one we did had two small rooms with large TVs, about seven internet connected computers, desks and chairs and a small library (libraries outside universities are pretty rare in Korea). If I lived here I think I'd really enjoy going there often. Back at the museum we rehearsed under 하현갑 Ha Hyeon'gap, the same person who taught me the monk's dance in 2009. I was able to follow along well enough, but I do wish I hadn't missed the whole day yesterday.

After lunch we went back to the community center to practice. Ha Hyeon'gap wandered off and didn't come back for 45 minutes at one point, just the same as I remember from 2009. In the early evening we had a presentation on 삼천포농악 Samcheonpo Nongak from 진주 Jinju, the first kind of 풍물 pungmul to be registered with the Cultural Property Protection Law. The speaker, their National Human Treasure was very interesting. After 이연석 Yi Yeonseok invited me to join him and the other members of the preservation association and some guys associated with the Samcheonpo Nongak Human Treasure for dinner. We all piled into vehicles and drove off, I thought that it couldn't be worse than dinner with the students, and perhaps better. However, it was pheasant- raw, deep fried, and in soup. That meant there wasn't a regular plain soup and I essentially ate just rice, nori and kimchi. In other words, I was almost wishing I'd stayed with the students, today some decent cooks were on duty.

In the after dinner practice session people started to get really intense about their practice. 가은 Ga-eun who will perform 승무 Seungmu for the KNUA student team can't remember the order of the motions yet and is a bit frustrated. The mixed team practiced their Act 5 (Old Wife) to great amusement. I was almost rolling around laughing. 정운 Jeong'un and 민지 Minji will perform Act 3, the funniest in my opinion.

Cell phone photos of 성범 Seongbeom and 창열 Changyeol demonstrating Act 3:

After rehearsals we had a 뒤풀이 duipuli at our housing with just us and the instructors led by 황종욱 Hwang Jong'uk who bought a bunch of meat and booze for the students (he is their professor at KNUA), 안대천 Ahn Daecheon (a graduate student at KNUA) , 허창열 Heo Changyeol (also a grad student at KNUA), and 김범성 Kim Beomseong. I came here in 2009 and stayed in the building next to the main hall and office building, we had to cook in a kitchen with no water, and do our dish-washing outside and one floor below the kitchen. The showers were not just cold water, they were freezing water. I expected the same thing this time but instead the Mask Dance Museum's third floor has been made into a sort of group housing with three major rooms, a shower room and a bathroom. The shower has enough pressure that one person can be in the room at a time (despite the number of shower heads), and the room feels colder than outside (still below freezing), and the water temperature varied yesterday from not even in the region of luke warm to hot enough I had to adjust to add some cold water. But that's much better than no hot water at all. The biggest room we've mostly kept unheated, and it has a small TV. That's where the party was. The women sleep in the kitchen (originally it was the warmest but now the men's room has been the last couple days. We have no idea why). The kitchen is functional, the hot water also comes and goes, but we can wash food and dishes right next to where we're chopping and cooking. BUT I have to mention only our group is here, the other students (25+ others) are in the facilities I stayed in before. I'm lucky I'm with these guys.

The duipuli was very interesting, research wise. Since I didn't drink I could pay sharp attention, but it's sad how hard it is to recall details and I wish I had been able to record the entire thing. Led by Hwang there were a lot of very meaningful toasts. Hwang, Beomseong, Daecheon and Changyeol all imparted their advice and wisdom and thoughts to the students, some of whom also had to give answering extended toasts. Among themes: you could have been in the teams studying 양주별산대 Yangju Byeolsande or 봉산탈춤 Bongsan Talchum on campus, instead you're here. It requires more effort, longer hours, living together, cooking, loss of freedom, etc. But there are advantages—among which the understanding of Goseong Ogwangdae that you could get if you actually were in Goseong being much greater than if you just learned on campus from Hwang and Changyeol. They can feel the environment, meet all or many of the performers, and get a more holistic understanding of the mask dance drama. There was a lot of associated discussion of what they could do this weekend (we're off class from Saturday midday or so until Sunday late afternoon early evening meeting). Cultural stuff was offered out (like learning to make a 창성 changseong or Korean totem pole type figure from a log) as were things the students seemed more excited about like going to a 찜질방 jjimjilbang and soaking and relaxing. Another theme was their future as performing artists and attracting an audience – this is one I sort of started by among other things telling them that the other students were their future audience, that they needed to reach out to these people who were already interested in the arts and get them to come to the their shows. Reach out to them. The one thing I really appreciated about the way the evening went was their openness to the students not drinking alcohol for once. There was water, soda and juice and several students drank mostly or all non-alcoholic beverages. Trying to remember more what was said I asked 민지 Minji and 가은 Ga-eun, they remembered only the latter point above, and Ga-eun explained that in her head right now is just (she gestures to different places on her head) "monk's dance, monk's dance, monk's dance, monk's dance." Although only one of the students is a mask dance majors, there was a fair amount of talk from their part of how much more fun they were having than they'd expected and how they now felt two weeks was short.

They really are living well here. There has yet to be a really awful meal (well, of the one's I could eat). The students are surprisingly good at cooking, and they're not cheap—soon we'll have to contribute money again. When they buy food, they also buy snacks and no one is kept away from them, it's accepted that everyone needs a snack from time to time. They use plenty of fresh vegetables in their cooking, compared to the students who I was matched with in 2009, the food situation is ideal. Of course it's not what I'd eat on my own (most of the time), but I'm a special case with my diet.

Jeong-u dishes up rice & the students play Rock, Paper, Scissors-- ultimate winner at the top of the stack.