A Way of Fate
A Way of Fate
  • Observer
  • 승인 2007.06.12 10:09
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Dropping are tears with pleasant astonishment; transparent tears drop constantly. In the heart, tears flow like a stream. In the soul, jewels of tears are twinkling like stars. In the dark theater, the audience is paralyzed due to an enchanted inspiration. Shooting stars, like tears, fly into the cosmos of 21st-century Korean art.
  What causes an audience to cry, when they have been laughing for the majority of a performance? For an hour, they have been smiling, giggling, chuckling, and laughing. Now, they are weeping, sobbing, crying, and wailing. What a startling reversal! Tragic ecstasy flows through the body and soul of the whole audience. An actor's performance is so real that the audience, without knowing it, is captivated by the tragic rapture.
  The name of this outstanding performance is Mr. Yu Yeomjangeui. It is a monodrama. One talented actor performs 17 different rolls. Yu Soon-woong demonstrates his acting skills for 70 minutes in a story about one mortician's tragic life. The job of a Korean mortician is extraordinary; he treats corpses using special traditional procedures.
   As mortal beings, humans are likely to become depressed whenever they are confronted with death. Instinctively, humans want to live forever, but they rarely recognize this longing. What a blessing for homo-sapiens to have a mortal existence. It is so natural that men should return to the Cosmos or to God. If a person cannot come to terms with death, he or she will go through life in fear and sorrow.
  There are three generations represented in the play: Yu's father, Yu himself, and Yu's son. Because of their mortician-ancestors, they are all morticians by fate. Being a mortician, Yu is confronted with many forms of death, and throughout the performance, the actor displays all kinds of human emotions and ways of life.
  Mr. Yu never wanted to become a mortician; it had been his father's will. So, as the protagonist, and to defy his father, he runs away from home. For a long time, he forgets about his home but must return when his father dies. He then undertakes the painful duty of preparing his father for burial. This means he will automatically become the next mortician. 
Ironically, despite Mr. Yu's dislike of the mortician's life, his son does not seem to mind it. Yu doesn't want to train his son, but his son's desire to become a mortician is so strong that, in order to prevent his son from becoming one, Yu kicks him out into the world. How in the world could he know, that one day, as a mortician, he would have to receive the body of his dead son? (His son had passed away during the labor union struggle) Bursting into tears, Mr. Yu rues his unavoidable fate as a mortician.
  An injection of humor enhances our enjoyment of the play. Sublime emotion strikes the audience in an ontological awakening. Esthetic magnificence penetrates the emotions of the audience. With a clean catharsis, the audience realizes the existence of its own mortality. He awakens all kinds of desires and encourages us to realize our real identities. Through the awakening, the audience becomes aware that life is but a journey, and that death is just the moving from here to there.
  A dexterous actor, Yu leads us to ontological introspection. For this reason, this particular monodrama is more than a mere tragedy. As the play goes on, the character satirizes the ways of the world and its money-oriented society.
   Success or failure in drama depends on the abilities of the actor. All other things, such as music, costumes, lighting, stage settings, and make-up are not so important. Since it is not only a monodrama but also a Madanggeuk, a Korean traditional performance, it can be changed according to the circumstances.
  At the last moment of the performance, the audience experiences an unbelievable transcendence over death. It feels emotional relief at overcoming the determining fate of mortality. It has changed its perception of death from something 'dreadful' to something 'peaceful.' What has happened? All of the audience's emotions and desires have been awakened by a mortician. It feels the joy of life! An aura illuminates the hearts of the people in the dark theater.
  Actor Yu is fast becoming a Korean-monodrama legend. A milestone has been established in Daehakro, Seoul because no one can forget Yu's incredible performance. Audiences will remember his voice, his words, his facial expressions, his acting, and his tears. And then, we may ask, "Who will be our mortician?"

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