One of the biggest performing arts festivals in Asia arrives in Seoul on Wednesday, featuring a total of 19 works from seven countries, including a play about late celebrated intellectual Susan Sontag (1933-2004).
This year’s lineup for the annual Seoul Performing Arts Festival, celebrating its 13th edition, is filled with a number of cutting-edge, highly experimental works that blur the line between fantasy and reality.
“SPAF 2013 aspires to encourage and inspire a new mode of creativity by inviting many different works, beyond the still-too-strong vocabularies of realism theater and the imbalanced trend of conceptual dance in the Korean performing arts scene,” said the festival organizers.
“Surrealist theater from France, multimedia theater from the U.S. and dance works based on strong and profound physicality by great choreographers will be here.”
|A scene from The Builders Association’s “Sontag: Reborn” (SPAF)|
One of the most anticipated performances is New York-based American troupe the Builders Association’s “Sontag: Reborn.” Based on Sontag’s personal journal she wrote in her mid-teens, the play follows Sontag’s teenage years before she became a popular intellectual.
The performance is known for its experimental use of videos, in which the older Sontag appears, looking amused and surprised by her younger self onstage. Many of Sontag’s collections of essays have been received well in Korea, including “Regarding the Pain of Others” and “Against Interpretation.” She died of leukemia in New York City in 2004.
Also included in the lineup is French artist Rachid Ouramdane’s contemporary dance “Sfumato.” The dance features victims of climate change who have just lost their homes. The piece is known for its atmospheric special effects, using smoke and water on stage throughout the performance. Dancers are said to be showing the horrors and aftermath of climate disasters, including cyclones, earthquakes and tsunamis ― while beautifully complemented by foggy and blurry visual effects.
One of the Korean works to be featured is “Philia” by choreographers Jang Su-mi and Her Sung-im, which features teenage friendships, curiosity and vulnerability. Kim Su-jin’s play “Sheaf Burning,” on the other hand, follows the memory of an old Korean woman who lived through the Japanese colonial era as well as the Korean War.
SPAF this year runs from Oct. 2-26 at Arko Arts Theater and Daehangno Arts Theater in Seoul. For more information, visit www.spaf.or.kr.
By Claire Lee (email@example.com)