SPAF brings int’l theater scene into heart of Seoul
37 works from eight countries will be shown from Sept. 28 to Oct. 31
By Chung Ah-young
The Edinburgh Festival, which runs through Sept. 4, is undoubtedly one of the most notable performing arts events in the world, boasting decades-long history, diversity and size.
Compared to the Scottish time-honored event, the Seoul Performing Arts Festival (SPAF) is still in its infancy but gradually improving its program and attracting diverse acts from around the world.
A total of 37 works from eight countries will be presented at the SPAF from Sept. 28 to Oct. 31 at major venues at Daehangno, the Arko Arts Theater and Daehangno Arts Theater and the old Seoul Station.
Every year, the annual event draws a large number of visitors through major international and domestic contemporary performing arts from theater, dance and multidisciplinary arts.
Initiated in 2001, the SPAF is one of the most prestigious culture and performance brands in Korea and is gradually emerging as one of the best performing arts festivals in Asia.
From this year, the event will be hosted by HanPAC, the government-run organization after it had been organized by private institutions.
Artistic director Seo Jae-hyung and choreographer Ahn Ae-soon have chosen the participatory works for this year, which feature experimental characteristics.
“The event is aiming to set an international standard in contemporary artistic performance as a hub for the international arts scene. The new trend of the international performing arts scene will be confirmed in the event,” the organizers said.
This year’s program features unique and innovative performances which turn conventional art forms in new directions. The program not only includes different genres but also touches on personal and social themes. The event will also offer an opportunity to discover the current international arts scene through overseas works from Germany, France, Australia, Italy, Japan, Colombia and Armenia.
“The Holy Innocents,” directed by Heidi Abderhalden and Rolf Abderhalden and presented by MAP Teatro, will be staged on Oct. 2 at Arko Arts Theater. The Columbian play is set in a bizarre party scene and then it turns into a war zone. The piece is the essence of South American theater which is created into visual art, striking a balance between political activism and poetic sensibility. The work also assembles dichotomous images such as reality and fiction, truth and lies, festivities and mass murder.
The Armenian play “I am Seagull” written by Anton Chekhov and Hakob Ghazanchyan will be performed from Oct. 3 to Oct. 5 at Daehangno Arts Theater. The play is a reinterpreted work of Chekhov’s “The Seagull,” one of the most frequently performed pieces, dealing with human desire, life, love and despair. In the innovative mono drama, Arkajina is the only protagonist on stage as the others remain seated on chairs with hats on.
The Australian play “small metal objects” directed by Bruce Gladwin will hit the stage on Oct. 14-16 at the old Seoul Station. The work has been staged in 31 cities of 11 countries. The piece has received critical acclaim all over the world. It will be set in the old Seoul Station and dismantle the boundaries between ordinary life and the theatre. The audience can experience a new performance breaking a conventional format by bringing the set into the crowd against the backdrop of the city. The drama about human values is defined by its unique use of theatrical elements.
“Before Your Very Eyes” to be on stage on Oct. 29 and 30 at Arko Arts Theater is a German play in which seven different lives in “glass rooms” are portrayed. People in the rooms look back on their childhood and look forward to their futures. Through a variety of images and a multi-media game, memories of the past and visions of the future are brought together in a time warp that helps the audience gain greater personal insight in a world where we have become all too obsessed with trying to stop the aging process and preserving youth as long as we can.
The opening performance “Megalopolis,” which will be performed on Sept. 28 and 29 at Arko Arts Theater, is a German dance performance exploring a mega city through dance, music, verbal and visual imagery. The work contains all the elements of the contemporary social paradigm including disorder, personal anonymity and surveillance systems. Choreographer Constanza Macras visualizes some of the dramatic language in unique ways. Through dance, music, language and video, a sharp perspective of the human elements in cities is meticulously and concretely expressed.
The world premiere “Nocturne,” which will be staged on Oct. 16 and 17 at Mary Hall at Sogang University, displays an unprecedented artistic sensibility, exceeding the conventional boundaries of dance, physical theater and circus. The piece combines the artistic senses with literature and music and elaborates the darkness and silence of night that instills life and energy into nature. Chopin’s piano composition by the same title represents the lyrical and beautiful atmosphere of the night. “Nocturne” will be directed by Yaron Lifschitz who is also in charge of the lighting and choreography.
The multi-disciplinary piece “Cinematique” to be staged on Oct. 18 and 19 at Daehangno Arts Theater will add visual images of actors’ movements, making the audience feel like watching a movie through state-of-the-art technology.
The works of dance, multidisciplinary art and theater by Korean artists will give foreign audiences a chance to understand Korean culture and the contemporary arts scene in Korea.
English subtitles will be available for the Korean productions. In addition, Korean dance and multidisciplinary works can be highly recommended for foreign visitors as the performances can be delivered without language difficulties.
For more details, please visit our official website www.spaf.or.kr/english.