Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Trip to Goseong


July 6th, 2011
There is not much time before I leave for the US- just a couple days more than a month- and during most of that time I'll be teaching the intensive class and my time and movements will be restricted by that, hence I'm running around the country this week. Today I've departed Seoul for 고성 Goseong to see all the lovely folks at 고성오광대 Goseong Ogwangdae. The trip down to Goseong is about securing my relationship with the group and group members, demonstrating my relationship/close connection to/with the group.

When I arrived I decided to walk to the training center, but about half way there the rain decided to come down rather fiercely. I arrived a bit wet and bedraggled but the office manager was very sweet and drove me to where the people who were practicing 말뚝이 malddugi were. When I arrived there I found that 동근 Donggeun was teaching—which was a bit of a problem as his motions are not exact nor his knowledge very concrete. I followed along with the three students and around 4:00 동수 Dongsu, one of the isuja showed up but he didn't have any time to teach us, only to monitor. We went back to the training center and I talked to the office manager, hung out, went to eat dinner, came back, took a nap, then practiced from around 8 until 10. The interesting thing in the evening was that there was a young man, 신경환 Shin Gyeonghwan, of obvious performing talent, there practicing as well. He had previously attended one of the schools that had sent participants to the camp, but had now graduated and was working as an elementary school teacher about an hour's drive away from Goseong. Elementary school is still in session, so he had come for the evening's practice. I immediately asked him if he was a jeonsuja because of his obvious talent and depth of knowledge, but he told me that he was already a member of another art: the regionally certified 정읍농악 Jeongeup Nongak. He had been performing with them for quite some time and he explained that he performed on all the instruments and on 소고 sogo. During evening practice (which ended at 10 pm) there were still performers present and working with the students: very impressive.

황종욱 Hwang Jong'uk, the manager of the group, finally showed up and although it had been arranged for me to stay with one of the rooms full of girls in the old dormitory, he invited me back to his house. Actually Koreans do not lightly invite people to their homes, I was very touched. I liked his wife and his daughter (I didn't see the son much as we got there after 11). We shared some makgeolli and fruit and vegetables.

July 7th, 2011
I woke up when the house started stirring at 7 (which was also before my alarm), and managed to wake my mind up fast enough not to be stumbling around in a haze in someone else's house. Hwang Jong'uk and I went back to the training center, but nothing started until nearly 10 (I was very surprised). During the almost an hour wait I stretched and then fell asleep stretching, stretched some more and fell back asleep and so on until I got tired of waiting and went looking for the teachers. Downstairs I found 전광열 Jeon Gwangyeol, the teacher for 말뚝이 Malddugi but unfortunately he didn't stick around (although he did say that since he'd seen me, it really was a good morning). Instead while the 원양반 Won Yangban crew had their own teacher and 문둥북춤 Mundung Bukchum had their own teacher and of course Act 5 had their own teacher, we ended up with 동수 Dongsu who was split between helping us and helping 승무 Seungmu with assistance from 동근 Donggeun. At last we learned to the end of the dance and I even started to feel like I'd memorized big chunks of it.

At lunch time 이윤석 Yi Yunseok (the National Human Treasure) showed up and we went to lunch (the secretary, Yi, 이재훈, 남진도 and 허종원). I honestly found the food barely palatable. I couldn't even drink the water as the cup smelled very strangely like fish to such an extent that I couldn't raise the cup to my lips. Oh well. It was about be able to see everyone. Dongsu did not go to lunch with us because his wife was due yesterday and home alone, so he went home to see her and brought her back to the center in the afternoon. They went to the hospital and the hospital told her the baby wasn't ready to be born yet. Before they went to the hospital, though, he taught Act 2 and sketched out Act 3 to the students. After that everyone was just practicing for the acts which isn't very interesting to me… so I worked on my computer in the corner of the room and finally decided to go back to Seoul. I left the training center just after 5. 

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