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Jeongdong Theater's 2024 vision: Modern culture, traditional acts, second production theater

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : Jan. 10, 2024 - 16:22

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Directors of the creative teams for Jeongdong Theater's 2024 season and Jeongdong Theater CEO Choung Soung-sook (center) pose for a group photo after a press conference at the National Jeongdong Theater of Korea, Wednesday. (Yonhap) Directors of the creative teams for Jeongdong Theater's 2024 season and Jeongdong Theater CEO Choung Soung-sook (center) pose for a group photo after a press conference at the National Jeongdong Theater of Korea, Wednesday. (Yonhap)

The 2024 season of the National Jeongdong Theater, a public performance hall in Jung-gu, central Seoul, will center its focus on modern culture, traditional acts and its commitment to revitalizing productions facing challenges, the theater unveiled at a press conference Wednesday.

For the upcoming season, 28 productions featuring 448 performances are scheduled for the “Hello Jeongdong” season, including three plays, three musicals, three concerts, one dance and two traditional music performances.

In particular, as the theater approaches its 30th anniversary and a reconstruction project in 2025, the National Jeongdong Theater sees this year as pivotal for reflection and assessment, said CEO Choung Soung-sook. The reconstruction is slated for the latter half of 2025, with completion set for 2028.

Focus on modern culture

In a strategic move to differentiate from other production theaters, the Jeongdong Theater continues to place a spotlight on local and historical characteristics of the district of Jeong-dong, the cradle of Korean modern culture.

The inaugural production on this theme was last year's musical “Dilkusha,” set in the house built by American journalist Albert Taylor and his wife during the Japanese colonial period.

Building on this momentum, the theater will premiere one musical, “Eye Charm,” inspired by the first beauty artist of the Joseon era, Oh Yeop-joo, and the music drama “Island: 1933-2019,” portraying the story of a leprosy patient and a nurse in the 1930s.

Focus on traditional acts

Jeongdong Theater Arts Group, founded in 2021, will premiere two traditional acts this year.

In May, “Modern Jeongdong” blends traditional and Western cultures from the modern era through dance and performance. In November, following last year’s “Chunhyang,” the group will premiere another piece, “Heungbo,” inspired by one of the five surviving pansori madang -- the 18th-century repertoire that comprised 12 stories.

The theater will also present the second installment of “Cecil Pungnyu,” featuring dancers who have contributed to the development of traditional Korean dance. This year, the focus is on a centurylong journey of Korean contemporary dance, showcasing the progression from modern shamanistic dance to contemporary choreography through eight performances.

Focus on second production theater

In a bid to strengthen its role as a production theater that assists performances that face challenges in staging reprisals or subsequent productions after their initial premiere, the Jeongdong Theater will support 10 productions through the "Cecil CREATing" initiative.

“One successful example is the play ‘This is Not a Love Story,’ which debuted at SPAF (the Seoul Performing Arts Festival) in 2022,” said CEO Choung. “It received positive responses during the 2023 ‘Cecil CREATing,’ earning its spot in this year's ‘Hello Jeongdong’ repertoire.”

This year's selection of 10 productions has been chosen across plays, musicals, traditional performances and dance.

Directors of the creative teams for Jeongdong Theater's 2024 season and Jeongdong Theater CEO Choung Soung-sook (center) pose for a group photo after a press conference at the National Jeongdong Theater of Korea, Wednesday. (Yonhap) Directors of the creative teams for Jeongdong Theater's 2024 season and Jeongdong Theater CEO Choung Soung-sook (center) pose for a group photo after a press conference at the National Jeongdong Theater of Korea, Wednesday. (Yonhap)
CEO Choung Soung-sook speaks at a press conference at the National Jeongdong Theater of Korea, Wednesday. (Yonhap) CEO Choung Soung-sook speaks at a press conference at the National Jeongdong Theater of Korea, Wednesday. (Yonhap)