“Sitting in a room,” performed by theatre company Iwasam, is a powerful piece that gives the audience something to think about. Written and directed by playwright Jang Woo-jae (photo), well-known as a compelling storyteller in the Korea theatre scene, the play imposes meaningful questions on the pandemic, artificial intelligence and humanity. Jang creates original plays with the aim of targeting “contemporary.”
The play, scheduled to be held through Sunday at the Art Theatre in Daehangno, Seoul, is similar to a science fiction novel. First performed last year at the 10th Seoul Theatre Festival at Haenghwatang Cultural Complex Center in Mapo, Seoul, the play received awards for the best picture and director at the 20th World Duo Performing Arts Festival.
“Recently I’ve found it difficult to define contemporary issues in one or two words. I wanted to portray the present through duo play at this juncture when everything is being whirled into a massive change,” said Jang. The title, “Sitting in a Room,” symbolizes the age where people connect to each other while staying confined in a room. “I think all of us are sending out urgent SOS to each other in our own rooms”, he said.
The plot is quite complicated but intriguing. Twin sisters Jenny and Ginny lose their parents to a fatally infectious disease. Their mother refused to quarantine on grounds of taking care of their father but passed away as well. The audience showed mixed response to this by criticizing the mother as “irresponsible” or “true love by death.” Ten years later, Jenny passes away and Ginny is informed by her boyfriend Lian that her sister has been restored by digital technology. He asks Ginny for memories of her sister and data in order to update the digital Jenny.
“We live in a world of paradox where we are forced to optimize ourselves to the world in order to stay free. We need get vaccinated, stay connected and adjust ourselves to AI technology. Whether the future is good or bad, we need to stay prepared,” said Jang. The play features many sci-fi inspired ideas such as governments controlling individual data usage in order to control carbon emission, private companies that virtually restore the dead. “These sci-fi inspired ideas are just tools. I enjoy listening to Professor Jeong Jae-seung’s science stories and watching seminars on the future.”