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We’re Going To Edinburgh

Posted July. 27, 2005 03:03,   


Just the mention of Edinburgh makes the hearts of performance art fans race.

The biggest performance festival in the world, the Edinburgh Festival, will be held in Edinburgh, Scotland next month. This small town of a population of 450,000 is packed with performers and tourists flooding from all the over the world every August, making its population density suddenly surges.

All genres of arts such as plays, dance, classic, and performances are part of the Edinburgh Festival, which is divided into the Edinburgh International Festival, where officially invited pieces of work are performed and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where anyone can participate. All the Korean teams participating this year will do so in the Fringe Festival. The Fringe Festival will be held between August 7 to 29, while the International Festival will be held from August 14 to September 4.

Jump, A Mid Summer Night’s Dream, Ying Yang, and Tato Will Go to Edinburgh—

This year, one stage play, and three non-verbal performances, or four in total, will leave for Edinburgh. Every year, one or two pieces of work participated in the Fringe Festival, but this year, the number of participants is the greatest ever.

In particular, “A Mid Summer Night’s Dream” from Yohangza Theatre Company draws attention since it is the first ever stage play to attend the Edinburgh Festival. “A Mid Summer Night’s Dream,” the most famous work of the Yohangza Theatre Company, and receiving good reviews abroad, interprets Shakespeare’s original work in a Korean way. For example, instead of Oberon as the king of fairies, Dokaebi (a Korean goblin) takes his place.

The Yegam (Presentiment) Company, with its “Martial Art Performance” is presenting “Jump,” a comedy that mixes martial arts and acrobatics. The show was assigned to be performed at the Assembly Hall, the biggest one in Edinburgh that can seat up to 780, and received the golden time of 7:30 p.m. Dividing the profits with the theatre will be 6:4, favorable terms for “Jump.” Yegam Company President Kim Kyung-hoon said, “If only based on seeing the reservations for tickets, “Jump” will make it into the top-five of all the works to perform at the Fringe.”

“Ying Yang,” combining oriental martial arts, stunts, and Korean dance, will be played at the George Square Garden, considered one of the best in Edinburgh aside from the Assembly Hall. Aricorea’s “Tato,” a concoction of Korean folkloric shamanism, street entertainment, and modern dance, is participating for the second year in a row, following last year’s performance.

Dreaming of Staging “Jump” Abroad—

Edinburgh, where art directors and planners from all over the world flock, has a great aspect of being an art market. Domestic interest in Edinburgh began to grow after the success of “Nanta.” Based on the rave reviews received at the Fringe Festival, “Nanta” debuted on Broadway, and the theatre companies trying to make it to Edinburgh and dreaming of becoming a second or third “Nanta” are increasing.

The planning company of “Ying Yang,” Anetkorea’s President Kim Joo-seop, commented, “It cost about 220 million won to participate in the upcoming Edinburgh Festival. Although we cannot expect immediate profits by going to Edinburgh, I think of it as an investment to advance to stages overseas.”

Anyone who pays the fees can participate in the Fringe Festival, but considering the costs of plane tickets, staying there, renting theaters and other costs, it is difficult for just anyone to participate. In the case of “A Mid Summer Night’s Dream,” it received 50 million won in assistance from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, solving plane ticket costs and theatre rental costs, but it still faces a loss of 80 million won. In order to save food expenses, the company is even taking its own cooking pots, and all the actors are performing with “no-guarantee” (in other words, without being paid). That shows how much of a dream stage Edinburgh is.

What is the Fringe Festival?—

Just as the title “fringe,” or periphery, implies, the Fringe Festival started off in 1947 as an autonomous performance event for unknown small performance companies that weren’t invited to the main festival, the Edinburgh International Festival. About 50 years have since passed, and the Fringe Festival has grown to a level, where one can see more experimental and original works than the main festival.

This year, 1,799 pieces of work will be performed on 333 stages, with the participation of 26,995 artists from everywhere in the world

Sue-Jean Kang sjkang@donga.com