The Korea Herald


Busan plays offer ‘Absurdity in the Park’

By Korea Herald

Published : Sept. 2, 2015 - 18:36

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The stage area at the Dalmaji theater. (Eunju Jung) The stage area at the Dalmaji theater. (Eunju Jung)
In Christopher Durang's “The Actor’s Nightmare,” the central character is thrust unknowingly into a play of which he has no knowledge or script, but in a production in Busan this weekend, he may for once not be the most confused person onstage.

The play is one of two one-act performances to be put on by the Busan English Theatre Association in the park in Busan ― the other being Edward Albee’s “The Zoo Story” ― but if past performances there are anything to go by, it’s likely a local passerby will unknowingly wander on the stage.

It happens with such regularity they have even worked a joke about it into the script.

“We are making a reference to the fact that every time we perform on the stage people wander across it,” said Michael Uchrin, who will both direct and appear in the show.

The production, “Absurdity in the Park” will be a continuation of outdoor plays staged each September by Busan expats, taking advantage of the warm weather and good views from the venue.

“The audience sits on a grassy hill and can bring a picnic, it’s a very relaxed atmosphere,” said Michael Wheeler, who will appear in both plays.

Both plays are based on absurd concepts, but Uchrin pointed out they had parallels with real-life situations and emotions.

For example, while the situation that the protagonist in “The Actor’s Nightmare” finds himself in is absurd, he said, the thought processes aren’t.

“You’re watching a person slowly go crazy because he has no way of sorting out what’s happening in the world around him. So he tries to fake his way through what he thinks is happening,” he said.

“We have a character who is thrust into a situation where everyone else has a script except him. I don’t know if you’ve felt that way ― that everyone else knows what I’m doing and I’m utterly clueless ― but I’ve felt that way.”

In “Zoo Story” a married middle-class man has a life-changing encounter with a permanent transient on a park bench in Central Park.

“It’s also about society and about how we compartmentalize from each other in many ways. That’s one of the themes of the play,” said Uchrin.

“You’ve got two people, one of whom is not capable of human contact due to his mental state, to a certain extent. And the other is so self-satisfied with doing things the appropriate way that there is no real humanness, there’s no real connection to others.”

In addition to the drama, spoken word performances will come from Sean O‘Gorman on Saturday and Kenneth May and Emily Yoon on Sunday.

The shows will start at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday at the Dalmaji Amphitheater near Jangsan Station.

See the “BETA Presents: Absurdity in the Park” Facebook page for details.

By Paul Kerry (