Friday, March 18, 2011

Watching Goseong Practice at KNUA

March 15th, 2011
I worked on the computer. Had lunch with Sarah. Worked on the computer. Went to 상모 sangmo class.

In class there was 현석 Hyeonseok, 지수 Jisu (who has not practiced since the fall), 성현 Seonghyeon and I. 이종휘 Yi Jonghui decided to loan me his really awesome whip part on the sangmo, and it is heavier than mine and spins SO SMOOTHLY. I looked in the mirror and partially because of the superior equipment, but partially because I really have improved a thousand fold, I was momentarily amazed that it was actually me making those perfect motions. Jonghui, as usual, was a hardass and made us repeatedly practice the same thing… I wanted to do 나비사 nabisa with his whip, but no, instead I did reversed direction circles for the second week—but those look almost as good as the counter-clockwise regular circles, now.

March 16th, 2011
I had lunch with Jan, a German guy studying Korean and interested in doing research on 판소리 pansori, worked on translation, and went to KNUA to see everyone practicing. First I met 혜미 Haemi and 경진 Gyeongjin for dinner. We just went to a little Korean-style fast-food place (a 분식 bunshik). But I bought their dinner and also bought some drinks for everyone while practicing at the market. During vacation they both worked at different kinds of drinking establishments, and they told me they'd been practicing three times a week, giving each other critical feedback. Classes started at the beginning of March and they're learning 양주별산대 Yangju Byeolsandae, 경기도 새남굿 Gyeonggido Saenamgut (a shamanic ritual, they learn the music and dance primarily), they have a lot of theory classes this term, too. They also mentioned that 창열 Changyeol was going to come to evening rehearsal. When we got to campus and the practice room everyone was there except for 기영 Giyeong who was at a funeral. I got tons of totally awesome hugs when I arrived. I scribbled six notebook pages of notes while watching, to summarize:
In addition to Changyeol, 안대천 Ahn Daecheon also came to practice, as he's a whole gigantic one year older than Changyeol, he talked most of the time and Changyeol was relatively quiet. Daecheon's wife and daughter (who's less than a month) also came to practice.

The students began with the basic motion set followed by 덧뷔기 deotbuigi. 재윤 Jaeyun played the 꽹과리 ggwaenggwari and Haemi played the 장구 janggu (because during the performance as well they'll be the primary musicians). As soon as they finished the basic motions then they moved directly into Act 1 (문둥북춤 Mundung Bukchum). 태환 Taehwan was playing the part and I thought he looked a lot more fluid, if a bit repetitive in his motions. But Daecheon criticized him intensely, particularly focusing on the fact that he didn't convincingly show his interest in the 소고 sogo before he came and tried to pick it up.

The students moved onto the second act, but after a couple minutes Daecheon stopped them again, this time with pointers that they needed to seem more excited to be "at play" than they were, how they should avoid 말뚝이 Malddugi's whip and so on. He said they didn't even look like they were worried they'd get hit. After a bit more criticism and an example of how several characters should be acting, the scene started again. As 민기 Min'gi entered the center for the Malddugi solo it was clear he was hesitant, he looked down at the floor and shook his head after small mistakes or to shake out the next move. Daecheon stopped them again, talked to Min'gi (but somewhat mildly it seemed to me) and criticized the musicians, saying they weren't connecting with the dancers. When 정우 Jeong'u had to do his solo for 원양반 Won Yangban he had the half smile that says "oh crap, I'm going to screw up." He also kept his head down a lot, biting his lip and faltering on his speeches. Min'gi lost his balance on a dance solo, to his evident embarrassment. While they were practicing next to me Gyeongjin was running through the monk's steps. It seemed obvious to me that the students may have been rarely practicing or not practicing at all and before long Daecheon announced that they were all worse than they'd been at Goseong (so does that mean he and Changyeol hadn't stopped in at all until the day I came?). Daecheon even questioned if Jeong'u was right for the part, asking everyone if they'd been practicing their individual dances, and asserting that everyone needed to practice special dance parts at least three times per day and then when rehearsing show some awareness of where the audience is, where the edge of the stage is, what angle to look at and generally to keep the energy level high, which it was not. The second time through Jeong'u looked more masculine and confident and he remembered all the dialogue, making me really think they just hadn't been practicing enough to remember stuff.


Act 3 went pretty smoothly and it runs out to the end, but Daecheon points out that the Yangban should move more like a yangban. Also they must choose where on the stage to do certain things and then keep doing it that way when they practice.

Act 4 is barely criticized, and Gyeongjin doesn't make any mistakes but the two women are told they don't look feminine enough and Daecheon points out a lack of intention in the mood- the old monk must seem like he's really into the women.

Act 5 was criticized by far the most. The blocking is off on the stage, the group hasn't practiced enough together, and Changyeol says it wasn't even funny, though it should be. Changyeol says it was "제일 보기 싫어" (the one that was the most painful to watch), basically all parts of it are wrong, even to the fact that the students hadn't brought props they need for the practice. They were told they looked like they didn’t want to be practicing. "Get your mood up! Don't depend on us to be here, figure this out for yourself." The students answer that they'll practice every day from April, but Daecheon and Changyeol want them to find places and ways to practice every day now, separated by act being fine.


Then Act 5 is told to practice again and again, until at least 11 pm but around 10:30 everyone else is excused worried about timing to get home, I left, too.

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