March 26th, 2011
Saturday has traditionally been my day for 송파산대놀이 Songpa Sandae Noli. When I returned to Korea late last summer everyone still practiced in one group on Saturday, but before long they decided to split up the practice so that the 이수자 isuja would have their own special practice on Friday nights. This was partially out of a sense that what they needed to practice was different than what others needed (the isuja handle the bulk of the performance duties but haven't been doing it as long as the higher ranked people, so they are still rehearsing specifically to improve their performance), and partially because the timing was more convenient for the majority of the isuja. Honestly I was annoyed at first, because I thought it would be poor for my research not to see how the isuja were practicing. But honestly, I've seen them all practice before right when I got here and in past years. There really isn't anything that would have been that different. With them gone, the idea is that the Saturday and Sunday practice could actually work on equipping the jeonsuja (registered students) and other junior members with the skills needed to perform with the troupe. Which I'd like, since I've only been able to perform Songpa Dari Balpgi so far. Recently I was talking to 어원석 Eo Wonseok and he told me that he practiced for more than ten years before he was allowed on stage. Talk about a way to discourage people from continuing to practice! With isuja and jeonsuja on the same day, basically the jeonsuja are expected to learn from watching, without many chances to actually stand up and participate.
In class on Saturday we began with three accompanists (I forget the name of the 피리 piri player, but 함완식 Ham Wanshik our National Human Treasure was there to play janggu and 박주현 Bak Juhyeon came to play 대금 daegeum. Jeonsu gyoyuk jogyo 이수환 Yi Suhwan was there, as well. There were three jeonsuja, Eo, 함승훈 Ham Seunghun and me. For learners we had Ham Wanshik's annoying friend, Yi Suhwan's friend (her second or third practice), plus the two elementary school girls. It was sort of obvious from the moment I got there that Yi would be running class that day, but I'd just been fighting with him on FB over the previous two days (and I felt very disrespected) so I was not particularly happy to see him. I did not greet him warmly or talk to him directly at any point during the practice. However, it was the best practice I've had for Songpa Sandae Noli –ever- in my 7 years with them. Before things started Yi and Ham were discussing why the preparations for the performance would be on Friday not on Saturday, because of course this creates a problem since Eo and Ham Jr. will perform, but they aren't welcome to Friday night practice. So they have to practice acts that need multiple players without the others who will actually perform in the Annual Full Length performance (scheduled for May 15th this year).
First we all did the basic motions with Yi leading, using our voices instead of the 장구 janggu to mark the timing (deong ddak gi deong ddak –eolsu- and repeat). It was a bit odd because most everyone doesn't have the level of physical conditioning to keep up the 입장단 Ip Jangdan, so I was more or less the only person doing it by the end. It was also weird, and I don't know if this is an old habit that has fallen out of practice, but Ham Wanshik kept practicing 불림 bullim scripts instead of doing the jangdan (the timing is the same), and it was really distracting because I've never heard that done before. After about fifteen minutes the three musicians sat down to play and the rest of us went through the basic motions for over 15 minutes in a circle. It was long enough that we worked up a good sweat. Yi told Ham Jr. and Eo they'd have to work on their acts and after a short discussion (where Yi pointed out incredibly obvious things like how your motions should be bigger –spatially- in a big madang than if you're performing on a small stage) we moved onto practicing the acts.
The two then ran through the act (act 5) one time, then Ham Wanshik had the rest of us join in. We did it one more time after which Ham could not resist being all authoritarian so he went to the white board to explain all about the act, but then gets worried he's not quite on and asks me not to write down what he's writing on the board. Which wasn't something I could fully follow anyway, as it had more to do with the historic meaning of 곤장 (act 5 is 곤장놀이) than anything that happens in the play. Ham should really either prepare a lecture or not go to the white board, but I guess I can't tell him that.
Then we switched to act 3 (the one I've been practicing) and this time I was 먹중 갑 Monk 'Gap' instead of 'Eul' which I've done every time so far. I did a pretty good job, actually. I delivered my lines with confidence, anyway. We were all (except Eo) reading from the script the whole time, though. Next we practiced 말뚝이 Malddugi's act, which was the first time I could ever do that one! I got to be 도련 Doryeon, the youngest of the yangban, and that was fun because he's all goofing off and running around and stuff (but no dialogue). Coolness!
Class ended then, a full two hours after we started!
After class, unfortunately, Ham Wanshik's annoying friend decided to confront me in the middle of Lotteria when we were all having a nice bit of fries and soda and various types of burgers. We'd gotten in each other's faces a couple weeks before—honestly I didn't behave like a Korean should and he was being a dick, so we were both at fault. Whatever, worked it out.
March 27th, 2011
Chans Bros on the computer and at home on the computer. I skipped Sunday Songpa Sandae Noli practice because I just wanted to get some sleep instead.