277Gathering of similar nonverbal performances!
Nonverbal performances are leading Hallyu on the performance scene. Their number has grown continuously since “Nanta” and is now various enough for the audience to choose one according to their preference. Here we focus on a few that are subtly similar and explain how to enjoy these similar yet different shows.
Original Drawing Show vs. The Painters: HERO
The pleasure of pictures resides in the process!
A nonverbal performance is one that only uses gestures and dancing without speech. But there are performances that have overcome such a definition. They are “Original Drawing Show” and “The Painters: HERO,” which have made pictures the main subject of nonverbal performance.
“Original Drawing Show,” which has been subtitled “The Look” since 2008, unfolds with an unusual interaction between the performers and audience that is just like communion between aliens and earth people, respectively. Various techniques such as marbling and action painting are realized in this great show, and searching for famous pictures reinterpreted on the stage presents fun to the audience. Meanwhile, “THE Painter: HERO” concentrates more on one theme. There is a hint in the title. We meet the heroes of the century through pictures. Slapstick comedy and action of making pictures are exquisitely harmonized. Although 70% of the audience for nonverbal performances is composed of foreigners, these unique performances are also recommended to Koreans.
▷ Original Drawing Show
▷ The Painters: HERO
Sachoom (Dance, If You Love) vs. Kung Festival
What else do we need except for dance?
There are two of wangtta* on the stage. One of them is a b-boy. B-boys appear a lot in this performance. The other wangtta is excellent at jazz dance and hip hop dance. There are excellent dancers in this performance. The former is “Kung Festival,” which is in an open run in the world’s first theater dedicated to b-boying, and the latter is “Sachoom,” which is already recognized on the world stage and still attracts new audiences to its dedicated theatre. Both deal with extremely universal themes, and their message is clear. It is not just a coincidence that wangtta appears in both performances.
“Sachoom” compliments love and depicts life. Here the wangtta is the self-portrait of a young man suffering from the pain of love. “Kung Festival” inspires memories of school days and declares confidently that it is against school violations. The wangtta here is an attractive character who shows the reality of middle and high school as it is without idealizing it and increases the attraction of b-boying. Both performances are great for people who think ballet or modern dance is somehow difficult, people who are not satisfied with idol group dancing, and the foreigners who want to enjoy Korean performance culture.
*Wangtta: A word that means the act of forcing someone into an outcast status or a person who is ostracized.
▷ Sachoom (Dance, If You Love)
▷ Kung Festival
Jump vs. Fanta-Stick
Slapstick, that is the question…
If the aforementioned performances specialize in the genres of art and dance matched with nonverbal performance, these two works show the real essence of Korean nonverbal performance. At the same time, they reveal what nonverbal performance is currently concerned about. Oriental martial arts such as wushu and taekwondo appear in “Jump,” and fusion Gugak appears in “Fanta-Stick.” Martial arts and Gugak are the main themes and tasty spice. Then, what is the backbone of these performances? That is comedy. And it is slapstick comedy in particular that pushes things to the limits.
The martial arts family in “Jump” presents the audience with fun like watching a martial arts movie. The scenes of being bitten and beating and avoiding provoke laughter. The performance is great in that it does not only have humor but maintains tension during a long running time. On the other hand, the percussion and string Families of “Fanta-Stick” do not focus only on humor. They provide things to watch such as a song accompanied by gayageum, pansori, and percussion performances, punctuated by well-planned slapstick comedy.
The audience goes on stage and participates in both of these shows. The response of the audience is enthusiastic, and multinational laughter fills the performance hall. This is a really rare cultural experience. Although some people could hardly acknowledge the humor these shows induce, everyone will agree that both are seriously thinking about the meaning of “nonverbal” and the identity of Korea. Even today, nonverbal performances are now playing at 22 dedicated theaters. Korean nonverbal performances are still evolving.
Written by: Kim Jeong-yeong
Photos: Provided by “Original Drawing Show,” “The Painters: HERO,” “Sachoom,” “Kung Festival,” “Jump” and “Fanta-Stick”