ATEC 11th International Forum: 'The Moonlit Women' Staged

On the evening of May 19, The Moonlit Women by the Department of Theatre at Chung-Ang University was staged at the Thrust Stage Theatre of The Central Academy of Drama, China. The play comprises of three tragic yet beautiful love stories in the Ancient time of Korea. Modern and traditional approaches of performing were interwoven to proceed the plots. What’s more, the live music of traditional Korean instruments also provided the audience with treat for ears.

The story started with Yu Yeong, a shabby scholar who had failed the civil service examinations for numerous times, staggering on the site of the Suseong Palace, drunk, complaining about his miserable life. Just when he was about to suicide, four beautiful women came up to him. Their fair skin in the moon light was as gorgeous as virgin snow. As it turned out, they were the spirits of Hye Yeong, Chae Yeong, Un Yeong and Gwen Ju. Once they were favored by the goddess of love, but then lost everything to the devils in human nature. They implored Yu to listen to and note down their stories.

The three stories proceeded in intertexture, highlighted by seemly incompatible yet cleverly inserted modern dance and dynamic pop music. The audience were led spontaneously by the plots and the melodious background music, but also had occasional emotional intervals as the cheerful dances and music turned up. Some key factors of traditional Korean culture in the play were elegantly displayed on the screen in Chinese characters at the back of the stage to help the audience engage in the whole play.

Professor Kang Min-Ho with Chung-Ang University, the director of the play, provided his interpretation, “At the site of bleak Palace SUSEONG, a shabby scholar named Yu Yeong reels along the street. A bottle of cheap alcoholic beverage is all he can count on. Unfortunately, being drunk does not help at all, as the brutal world never changes a bit for him. He cannot help feeling helpless and self-pity. However, four women show up and tell him their stories about the Palace SUSEONG. Bombarded by their legends, Yu Yeong takes another glass of alcohol. But he comes to realize that however meaningless or miserable life seems to be, love will find him a way out.”

Director Kang added that on one hand, popular factors like rap and modern dance were necessary for theatre, as they increased the acceptability of a production by modern audience; on the other hand, factors of traditional culture were well accepted too – those traditional Korean gangs, drums, and stringed instruments used in the play, for example, were frequently seen in Korean theatre.