Hello, this is Jeongdong Theater! We have brought you another review by a Korean viewer! Please enjoy this review 🙂
The Palace: Tale of Jang Noksu
– Deadly Cinderella of Joseon Dynasty –
Intro. Before the Actual Content
Posters of various performances can be seen at bus stops. One of those is the poster of <The Palace: Tale of Jang Noksu>. Although Jeongdong Theater is located near City Hall Station and Gwanghwamun Station, the poster of <The Palace: Tale of Jang Noksu> can be seen near the Seoul Arts Center! It was a pleasant surprise to see the poster so I snapped a photo of it. I’ve seen almost all the productions of Jeongdong Theater, and as always, I looked forward to seeing another performance by the theater!
Seeing Jang Noksu as an Entertainer of Joseon
There have been various works based on Jang Noksu. However, unlike the images of Jang Noksu as the “Female Villain of Joseon”, “Notorious Temptress” and other titles portrayed in the past, works focusing on the fact that Jang Noksu was the best entertainer of Joseon are uncommon.
<The Palace: Tale of Jang Noksu> tells the story of Jang Noksu, a lowly-born slave, who developed her talent as an entertainer and was selected by Prince Je-an to become the star gisaeng of Gaheungcheong. She caught the eye of Yeonsangun and rose to the position of a royal concubine, wielding her authority in the palace. The performance enhanced the romance story between Prince Je-an, Yeonsangun and Jang Noksu to create a brand new theatrical dance performance.
The life of the woman who rose from a lowly-born slave to a royal concubine status is weaved seamlessly with different traditional Korean dances such as the “Janggo Dance”, “Hallyang Dance” and “Gyobang Dance”. In particular, Director Oh Kyung Taek explained that “how to connect dance and drama, and how to convey the journey of the character of Jang Noksu without any dialogues and using solely body movements, dance and facial expressions, were the greatest concerns. The performance was created with its majority being fulfilled through the motif of gibang culture, royal palace culture and folk culture”.
Originally, the repertoires of traditional dance can last 10 to 30 minutes each, however, they were compressed and reduced to 2 to 3 minutes in <The Palace: Tale of Jang Noksu>. In essence, it is not an understatement to say that the performance contains all the extracts of traditional Korean dances.
Until Korean Performances Become A Brand
<The Palace: Tale of Jang Noksu> is a non-verbal performance containing almost zero dialogue. This means that the performance has its advantages and disadvantages and if executed incorrectly, it may become too boring or dull. This point needs to be taken into consideration and combined with a solid storyline and directing and I think that <The Palace: Tale of Jang Noksu> did an excellent job.
The never-ending appearances of group dances and various traditional Korean dances were enough to grab the attention of foreign viewers. The performance tried to retain the traditional aspect of “dance” while preserving its essence. Another advantage is that besides Korean viewers who are familiar with the history and background information of Jang Noksu, viewers who do not know much about her beforehand can easily understand the story as well. Jeongdong Theater performances have a sizeable fraction of foreign viewers and this makes me wonder if the reason for this is due to the appropriate strategy of using detailed acting, instead of dialogue, to convey the content to its target audience.
The popularity of K-Pop with BTS at the center is boosting the tourism industry of Korea. In that case, I wonder if musicals and other performances will have the same effect in the future. I also think Jeongdong Theater has the potential to lead this trend. I actually saw foreigners in the theater and also witnessed their smiles after the performance. Upon seeing their satisfied faces, I felt a sense of satisfaction despite not being involved in the performance.
For us, watching a show is a must if we visit Broadway of New York and West End of London. Similarly, I look forward to Jeongdong Theater creating a new tourism product that represents Korean performances as one brand that will satisfy the growing individual foreign viewers.
The Narrative Text on the Screen Passes Too Quickly?
There are two screens at both sides of the stage displaying narrative text that explains the plot of each scene. However, the narrative text passed too quickly and even as a Korean myself, it was difficult to read the Korean text at such a high speed. My reading speed is not slow and my eyesight is not bad either.
I had this experience while watching other performances of Jeongdong Theater as well. It would be better to slow down the rate at which the captions pass by so that the audience can read them at a comfortable speed while understanding the text and the plot. The acting of the cast may be superb but the story may be slightly complicated for foreigners to understand, so it would be great to show consideration to them and and lower the speed of the captions.
Besides letting the audience understand the plot, it is important to guide foreign viewers so that they are able to understand accurate historical facts. I hope that the audience will leave knowing the historical period at which Jang Noksu rose to become a royal concubine and what kind of woman she was, besides the understanding that Jang Noksu was just a woman who loved Yeonsangun.
– This review was made in collaboration with ARTinsight.
Jeongdong Theater Tradition Series Performance
<The Palace: Jang Noksu>
2018.04.05 ~ OPEN RUN
Tue – Sat 4PM (Closed on Sun & Mon)
Viewing age of 48 months and above
Choreographer_Jeong Hye Jin, Director_Oh Kyeong Taek, Writer_Kyeong Min Seon, Composer_Kim Cheol Hwan, Art Director_Park Dong Woo, Lighting Design_Sin Ho, Video Design_Jeong Jae Jin, Costume Design_Lee Ho Jun, Make-up_Kim Jong nn, Prop Design_Kim Sang Hee
VIP : 60,000₩
R : 50,000₩
S : 40,000₩