Korea’s traditional culture in “The Palace: Tales of Jang Nok-Su,”

As Korea’s leading traditional culture and arts theater, Jeongdong Theater hold our high quality performances that give a modern interpretation to Korean traditional culture and art in high esteem. Especially our running program “The Palace: Tales of Jang Nok-Su,” a dance musical that shows the dramatic life story of Jang Nok-Su as she progresses from slave to member of the palace through traditional dances and performances. The show also shows different traditional games in between scenes.

  1. Dapgyo Nori

The show starts with women dancing while carrying lanterns, this dance is called the “Dapgyo Nori.” Dapgyo Nori is a nationwide tradition where people cross over a bridge in a town during the night of Jeongwol Daeboreum (the first full moon of the lunar calendar) to wish for a rich harvest and a long healthy life. It is also believed that if you step on the bridge, you can get rid of twelve months of bad energy.

Look up to the sky and reach for the stars, look down to the earth and farm the land.

This year’s a good harvest; next year’s a good harvest.

Dear moon, bright moon, bright as daylight,

This game dates as far back as Goryeo Dynasty. However, it differs in different provinces. For example, in Seoul, 12 bridges must be crossed but, in some provinces, crossing 3 or the oldest bridge is sufficient.

  1. Plate Spinning and Bean Bag Tossing

After the Dapgyo Nori, the actors invite two members of the audience to the stage and play the games together. Plate spinning is a very old traditional game of spinning a ‘plate-like’ object using a stick with a pointed tip of about 40cm, making it a game of concentration and stamina. The bean bag toss is also a lot of fun as the two audience members compete against each other to see who can put the most bean bags in each colander. At the end, participants get a prize.

  1. Jeogeobi Nori

Jeogeobi Nori is a festival associated with a type of doll or human figurine called a Jeongaebi or Jeonggyeongi that is made from straw and characterized by its oversized penis. During the Gyeonggi dodanggut, a ritual exorcism, the performers beat this doll at the end, sing a song, and carry it outside to burn it, an act which symbolizes the burning of ‘bad energy’. For our performance, a modern reinterpretation was created around this doll. Dodanggut was chosen because it retains the core Korean rhythm patterns and is well-structured in terms of musical techniques and the dance movements also show the basics of Korean dance movement.

  1. Samulnori

The play ends with an exciting samulnori performance. Samulnori is a street performance that was reborn in 1978 as a performance genre. The traditional piece of music played with four different types of musical instruments: The Korean word “samul” refers to four instruments ― the “jing,” a large gong; “kkwaenggwari,” a small gong; “janggo,” an hourglass-shaped drum; and “buk,” a barrel drum ― “nori” means to play. Thus, the meaning of the term is the playing of four instruments. Samulnori is often confused with Pungmulnori, but the two are quite different. Based on the name, the biggest difference is the number of instruments. In addition to the four instruments used in Samulnori, Pungmulnori adds Sogo and Taepyeongso and is a comprehensive game that combines dance, talk, play, play and ritual. In Samulnori, four people play indoors, but Pungmulnori often plays outside. Either way, both are a pleasure to watch.

 

From the beginning of the performance to the final stage of the finale, our dances, our melodies, our culture, our play, etc. takes the emotions on a ride that is exhilarating and sometimes sad. Come watch <The Palace: The Tale of Jang Nok-Su> with the family and enjoy the ride.

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