Seoul Shakespeare Company has stepped things up for its production of “The Tempest,” which starts this weekend.
The company holds performances of scenes and monologues, but only puts on one full-length play a year, which drives them to make the most of it. This year they have moved to a larger theater, Sotang Hall, and added subtitles.
That aside, they have full costume, set and lighting design and a cast of 15 ― relatively large for an expat production.
“This is my third Shakespearean production that I’ve directed, and all of those have been pretty large casts so I’m used to it by now,” said Lindsey Higgins, the play’s director. “But I always enjoy having a big cast because you get a lot of camaraderie, so I’m enjoying it.”
And for this production, she feels that she has a particularly good set of actors.
“I feel like it’s one of our stronger casts in quite a while,” she said.
“They’ve all been doing a lot of character work so they all have a very good handle on who they are in the play, and (are) having a lot of fun working together.”
A scene from rehearsals of Seoul Shakespeare Company’s “The Tempest” (Matt Bedford)
The play begins with exiled sorcerer and duke Prospero summoning a storm to shipwreck the men who betrayed him, who then find themselves on the magical island where Prospero now lives.
Higgins says this supernatural aspect has been particularly fun for the cast.
“There’s a lot of monster characters and spirit characters so it’s given them the opportunity to do a lot of body work and a lot of movement work,” she said. “I think a lot of interesting things have come out of the rehearsal process.
“It’s hard to find a place that allows you to do that and it’s really exciting for an actor when you have a play where you can totally transform yourself into a different shape.
“I know that myself as an actor I really enjoy those kind of characters.”
The theater is in Sinchon, one of Seoul’s busiest student areas, and an addition SSC has made for this production is subtitles in Korean, which Higgins hopes will attract a more inclusive audience.
“We’re really trying to reach out to the Korean universities and the Korean audience members to have more Koreans seeing Shakespeare in English,” she said.
“I’m really hoping we can get more of a Korean audience this time around.”
One issue they have had putting on the production is funding, particularly paying for a good venue.
“Renting a theater in Seoul is wildly expensive,” said Higgins.
“In the past when we’ve rented theaters, it’s always come out of someone’s pocket and we paid them back later. So this time we reached out to the community and family members who might be interested in supporting the productions.”
The company turned to crowd-funding site Kickstarter to raise some of the money needed. The project exceeded its target, which Higgins said was mainly thanks to family members and the expat community.
“I expected that we would get funded because there is a lot of support here from people’s families. I think they’re really excited to donate from across the seas,” she said.
“I think when family are far away there aren’t a lot of ways to support their sons and daughters.”
“The Tempest” will be performed at 7 p.m. on Saturdays and 4 p.m. on Sundays for three weeks starting this Saturday. Tickets are 15,000 won for Saturday and 10,000 won for Sunday. Group discounts are available. For reservations, contact email@example.com
To get to Sotang Hall, leave Exit 5 of Sinchon Subway Station and take the first right. The theater is in the basement on the left, just after the first crossroads.
By Paul Kerry (firstname.lastname@example.org)