(Photo credit: Suvasha)
I’ve been itching to do some improv since taking a class back in Seattle. Sadly, improv isn’t very widespread in Korea. It was hard even to find foreigners who would be down to do some. I did, however, find the closest thing I could and joined up with a local theater group. Recently, we participated in the Busan International Shakespeare Festival.
We did a grisly scene from Titus Andronicus. The others acts in the festival did scenes from Othello and A Midsummer’s Night Dream. There were also a few original compositions based on Shakespeare’s works.
Titus Andronicus is this old crazy guy whose hand has been cut off. His daughter has been raped, had her tongue cut out, and her hands cut off as well. The three people responsible for it decide to come by and mess with him because he’s crazy. They are Tamora (the empress) and her two sons, Chiron and Demetrius.
Our empress was played by a tall Indian guy from South Africa. Naturally, her two sons were played by two short ladies with curly hair. We played it crazy and ambiguous with the genders so I (as Demetrius) dressed in menswear as womenswear while sporting a goatee made out of eyeliner and super red lips. There was actually space for a bit of improv! Titus and Tamora have long passages of just talking to each other so Chiron and I just played around taunting each other and other people. I honestly felt like one of my trouble-making fifth graders: sometimes when they’re bored out of their skulls, they’ll sit there quietly, then just as quickly whip around and mess with some other student, then go back to sitting quietly. Sort of like that.
And then at the end of our scene, Chiron and I get killed. It’s awesome. I’ve always wanted to die on-stage. I’ve always wanted to be in a play. When I was growing up, I always felt like actors got chosen instead of actors choosing themselves. So getting to do Shakespeare in Busan was like catching up on what little Cat didn’t get to do. It’s a real dream fulfilled. There were times during the journey where it didn’t feel like we’d be ready in time, times when I felt like I should just quit because it wasn’t worth doing. But that was all part of the thrill of the whole thing.
The weather in Busan was excellent that day. Still summer hot but not summer stifling. You could feel autumn testing things with a bit of breeze. To top it all off, the guys and I went out for Chinese lamb kebabs. They were delicious. 我爱羊肉。