“I wanted to express lovely Jang Noksu!”
Interview with Cho Ha-neul, the main character of <Palace: Story of Jang Noksu>
Hello, this is Jeongdong Theater.
Today, I met actress Cho Ha-neul, who is the main character of <Palace: Story of Jang Noksu>, which is Jeongdong Theater’s permanent performance. Jang Noksu performed by her is not the wicked lady that we used to know. She is an artist who is excellent in artistic talents. Because she herself had majored in dance, actress Cho Ha-neul said she was able to sympathize with artist Jang Noksu more. Her face, which quitely explains the new Jang Noksu, was felt lovely to me.
Q. What was the reaction around you when you said you took the role of Jang Noksu?
The image of Jang Noksu recognized by the public is a strong image of an evil woman. When I was cast, I was really happy but scared. Oh my God!, do I take the role of Jang Noksu? I had this kind of thought. However, many people said that after seeing the show, they met with Jang Noksu who is lovely and has a lot of artistic talents. Especially, they said the lovely side of Jang Noksu is very much like me. (laugh)
Q. How did you approach the character?
I searched for Jang Noksu in movies or dramas first. I also watched a film called “Disloyal Vassal”. However, Jang Noksu in <Palace: Story of Jang Noksu> is slightly different. It focuses more on the joy, anger, sadness, and happiness of Jang Noksu. So I was wondering how to dismantle the existing perception of a wicked woman about her. In the process, Director Oh Gyeong-taek and Choreographer Jeong Hye-jin helped me a lot. They created Jang Noksu as a woman with a lot of talents and a lovely woman with various charms. They explained a lot about the psychological and detail parts, and I was able to immerse myself in the character.
Q. Every time her status changes from a slave to a gisaeng (Korean geisha) and a royal concubine, the dance of her changes. What are the characteristics of each dance?
I had to set up the character of Jang Noksu well from the beginning. Because Jang Noksu as an artist should be a character to be loved and sympathized by the audience. When she was a slave, she was freewheeling and very witty. There is a scene where Nok-su steals sweet potatoes and corns from the market and then performs random dance and idol dance. I wanted to show the full-blown freewheeling charm of Nok-su just like a Gypsy woman. When she became a gisaeng (Korean geisha) and practiced various arts including dancing, singing, and drumming, I tried to express lovely Jang Noksu. For example, there is a scene where noblemen are mocking Jang Noksu who became a gisaeng by asking her to pour an alcoholic beverage. She shows strong and sturdy attitude in which she does not surrender to the oppression of noblemen, saying “I will follow a dog rather than pouring an alcoholic beverage to you, you are not better than a dog”. When she became a woman of the King, I wanted to proudly show her charisma as a person with grace and power as a royal concubine. In the scene of fighting power with vassals, she is expressed as being dizzy and risky.
Q. What is your favorite dance in the performance?
In the scene where Noksu confronts vassals, there is a drum dance. It is a group dance in which eight dancers dance while continuing to move with drums. Especially, it is a scene in which harmony among actresses is very important, so the amount of my practice was much higher than other dances. Also, I hit my hand with the drumstick as I hit my drum while moving, resulting in many times of injury. I think this scene is the highlight of the performance because I needed to have enormous energy in terms of physical strength, and I had to act out inner emotions. It is the scene where the charisma of Nok-su storms like a storm. It was difficult, but I felt so much ecstasy. In addition, there are many beautiful dancing steps in <Palace: Story of Jang Noksu>. The audience seems to like Gainjeonmokdan dance a lot. It is a royal dance and a colorful and beautiful dance where dancers dances mainly around a vase with full bloomed peonies.
Q. If there is a part for which you have scratched your head and tried hard?
There is a janggo dance scene. Janggo dance is also called janggu (Korean double-headed drum with a narrow waist in the middle) dance, and it is the scene where Jang Noksu who entered Gaheung Cheong (group of 2nd class gisaengs at the time of ruling of King Yeonsan) takes lessons to become a gisaeng. Janggu is a field that I have never learned before, so I needed a lot of practice. If I am an actress playing the role of Jang Noksu, I should not have any little symptom of relaxing in the dance. I stayed until late night every day to practice and study janggu dance for expressing it just as like Jang Noksu.
Q. What do you think of Jang Noksu as an artist and a woman?
I think that her life is very dramatic because she became a giesang born as a slave and became a royal concubine. Especially, the scale of thinking and artistic talents of her that captured the King’s heart seem to be really great. It is also wonderful for her to be a woman who actively takes up her life without resting in the situation.
Q. What are the charms of Korean dance, Korean melody, and Koran rhythm that we meet through <Palace: Story of Jang Noksu>?
Dance is said to have a scent of life. In addition, the exciting melody and rhythm evoke excitement and a real fun in the epidemiological principle of pushing, pulling, joining, and releasing. I also think that the combination of fast and slow seems to resemble life and that the taste of fastening and releasing is a charm.
Q. What is the most important thing to your as an actress?
An actor or actress who is on a stage must have soul and passion for learning. Apart from the weight of the role, there must be a sense of self-reliance that I am the protagonist of the stage at that moment. Unless you have such attitude, you cannot attract and captivate the audience.
Q. What are the differences from the premiere?
This year’s performances are more actively communicated to the audience with fun elements. For example, there is a scene of dancing while singing Ongheya (Gyeongsang province’s traditional folk song), called “Yeosgawi Scene”. Please confirm it through performance. (laugh).
Q. Please tell me your last words.
In the premiere last year, I had a strong thinking that I should do well somehow. However, this year, I become to go deeper into the character of Jang Noksu. I became more comfortable with the character when I thought “What would it be like if I am Jang Noksu?” Since I majored in dance and have walked the path of an artist, I would like to express the artistic talents of Jang Noksu well.
Actress Cho Ha-neul said, “I really want to show the artistic life and joy, anger, sadness, and happiness of Jang Noksu.” Jang Noksu is an artistic craftsman who can not help but love to me. Please come to watch <Palace: Story of Jang Noksu> in which you can meet the charms of Jang Noksu delicately played by Cho Ha-neul!
** Video link scheduled