Actors spend much of their time and effort on one performance at a time. An ideal rehearsal period is about one month to a month and a half per production. Actors practice 4 to 5 hours a day during that period. They rehearse all day long a week before the play opens.
On performance days, they do not have time to rest because they often put on two performances in one day. About two hours before each performance, they have character meetings. In character meetings, they have a final check whereby the director makes sure the actors’ interpretation of their characters matches his vision. An hour before the performance, they have a final practice on the actual stage for about 30 minutes. They place emphasis on entrances and exits, and movement around the stage. Entrances and exits are important because lighting and sound usually changes at those times. If someone makes one mistake, other staff members get tangled up. 30 minutes before the performance, actors have to go to make-up. Sometimes make-up artists are available, but often times the actors have to apply their own make-up for scenes. Heavy make-up shows their expressions and makes them look more vivid on stage. They read their lines during the final check while joking with each other and applying make-up before they come to the stage.
On the day of the performance, the atmosphere on stage was more casual than it was during practice. Their acting was so realistic, which drew many oohs and aahs from the audience. Their gestures and movements conveyed happiness, anger, sadness and various feelings to the audience. After the performance, they took time for simple greetings and congratulations before taking-off their make-up. They seemed to be tired after their long performance, but they wore bright smiles on their faces.
Jeong-Yeon Kim (32)
Troupe "Choice-Theater" member
Q) Why did you decide to get into stage acting?
A) I happened to watch a play accidently when I was a student and I felt drawn to it. So, I decided to start acting.
Q) What makes plays more interesting than other cultural performances?
A) As you know, movies and TV dramas usually communicate through broadcast media. However, actors and the audience communicate in the same space with no filtering in a play. I think one to one communication between an actor and the audience is the best feature. The audience can feel more connected to the performance when they see a real stage.
Q) When do you feel the best about your acting?
A) It is rewarding when I listen to compliments about the play from the audience after performances. It is also rewarding when people show interest by recognizing me or talking about my play. However, when my son says to me that “My mother looks the nicest on the stage,” that's the best feeling.
Q) What are the most difficult things about preparing for a performance?
A) Plays are produced by a group of people, so the flow of personal relationships and memorizing lines are most important. Making the image of a character is also important because I have to portray various kinds of people. Like all the preparation processes that create something, it is difficult and all of the elements are important. For example, I portrayed a grandmother before. It was hard for me because I didn’t have that life experience. I remembered that I tried to portray an elderly person’s life in a roundabout way by getting around the street and a traditional market.
Q) What does being an actress mean to you?
A) I think it is the best way to express myself. To me, being an actress means that people will know me as Jeong-Yeon Kim and not just as someone’s wife or mother. I chose this profession because I think I have something special to offer as an actress.
Q) What message would you like to send to students who are dreaming of becoming stage actors?
A) Having a dream is a good thing whatever it may be. However, I think the process you undergo in order to achieve your dream is even more important than the dream itself. I hope you understand that having a dream is not enough and that you have to work hard to make that dream come true.
Plays are performances that convey movement and energy. However, we are not able to see all the effort actors put in behind the curtain. If we consider the actors hard work beyond the stage, we can gain a deeper appreciation for their performances. We can be transported to a different world by their passion whether or not we actually feel and see their passion and beads of sweat on stage.
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