March 5th, 2011
I could not get to sleep last night until five in the morning, which was a terrible problem as I had to get up at 6:15 to go meet my friend Aimee, who I first met 12 years or so ago while traveling in Laos. Aimee and I have since met up again all over, but this time she's finally coming to visit Korea. We went back to my place and went to sleep.
Today, being Saturday, was 송파산대놀이 Songpa Sandae Noli practice and for once I was actually a few minutes early. Unfortunately from the moment I walked in I was in an argument with the most annoying other guy who hangs around Songpa (though I hesitate to call him a group member as his dance is horrid, he's never performed and he irritates most people so much that if he wasn't National Human Treasure 함완식 Ham Wanshik's good friend, he'd have been long gone. Aimee went to go walk around Jamshil and I practiced, today, because the group was having a big meeting, we had better attendance. For class it was annoying man, 어원석 Eo Wonseok and a woman I'd never seen before (she turned out to be a college classmate of 이수환 Yi Suhwan who had practiced way back in the day). After rehearsal when they were talking with her (and learning the afore-mentioned) I heard them telling her very specifically that if she wanted to become a real professional performer, then she should start attending rehearsal regularly. This was significant in that the speakers were positioning themselves as professionals in contrast with the woman's background as the member of a club.
Class was initially taught by 탄종원 Tahn Jongwon and 김영숙 Kim Yeongsuk, who drummed while Tahn led the movements. After a few minutes 안병인 Ahn Byeong'in showed up and he drummed so Yeongsuk could dance. It was interesting because for one thing Ahn was insistent that they start to have a regular sequence of moves ("Like 고성오광대 Goseong Ogwangdae") and he had a sequence in mind (which was really just a sequence for practicing the motions one after the other in the same order, not much like Goseong's sequence which would do a motion only once or twice, then return to the same motion several movements later). He talked to Tahn quietly about it and then Tahn led us with Ahn's motion sequence, which was 9 motions and although I cannot write down the order now, by the fifth time through it, I was feeling fairly comfortable and fluid (although others were complaining that we needed a break).
Near the end of practice Ham Wanshik came over (from the office meeting) as did others in the upper echelon of the group (Professor 이병옥 Yi Byeongok, Human Treasure 김학석 Kim Hakseok, 김명하 Kim Myeongha) and they danced with us. Ham then decided that since I'd said I wanted to learn to be one of the dark faced monks that I should really learn to be 먹중 을 Mokjung Eul from the 3rd act (연닢). So we practiced one time with Tahn Jongwon, Ham and Kim Myeongha as the other people in the act, then they all recorded the 대사 daesa for me so that I practice the intonation at home. Pretty cool. I mean, I was surprised to be given a speaking role to practice, but it was fun.
There was more political stuff with the group that I shouldn't write about here.
Aimee and I left and went all over Seoul—we had a meal in 신촌 Shinchon, sought out tourist maps and stuff for Aimee in the 광화문 Gwanghwamun area, and walked to 명동 Myeongdong-- in other words I showed her a lot of Korea. And taught her to read, so she can get around on her own. Yes, phonetically reading Korean is that easy.