The Making of Cultural Spaces in Korean Performance Traditions

Yu Jin Ko, Professor of English, Wellesley College and Ivanna Yi, Korea Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, Washington University

Yu Jin Ko, Professor of English, Wellesley College

“The Afterlives of Shakespeare’s Original Stage Conditions: From Boston to Seoul”

Of all the stage conditions associated with Shakespeare’s theatre, no feature has been more replicated or has received more attention than the open thrust stage.   From experiments on the German stage in the nineteenth century to stagings at the Bankside Globe in London, the thrust stage has been central to theatrical projects that have focused in particular on promoting a populist ethos and revitalizing the actor-audience dynamic that is believed to have existed in early modern amphitheatres. My paper will examine two modern productions that follow this practice, but which are staged on conceptual, not physical, analogues of the amphitheatre stage: American Repertory Theatre’s Donkey Show (Boston) and Yohangza’s Midsummer Night’s Dream (Seoul).  The paper will explore in particular how the conceptual setting evokes a specific cultural space and an attendant ethos that recall but significantly reimagine the actor-audience dynamic of Shakespeare’s theatre and thereby reconstruct the Shakespearean work itself.

Ivanna Yi, Korea Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, Washington University

"P’ansori Mountain Pilgrimages: Land as Interlocutor in Contemporary Korean Oral Performance and Literature"

This paper conceptualizes the contemporary practice of p’ansori san kongbu, mountain study, as a form of pilgrimage. As part of the practice, singers living in Seoul today return to mountains in Chŏlla province, where p’ansori singing first emerged during the late Chosŏn (1392-1910) dynasty. Connecting the mountain pilgrimage to shamanic and geomantic indigenous beliefs, in which land is animate, this paper argues that land in late Chosŏn was seen by singers as a sentient interlocutor rather than a commodity, a way of seeing which also reverberates in the written poetry of Chosŏn. Dr. Yi shows how singers and writers in a post-industrial, urbanized Seoul continue to reinforce an idea of land as a speaking subject.

Co-sponsored by the East Asian Studies program, the Department of Classics, and Comparative Literature.