HOW MANY people can earn a chance to live the various lives of different individuals in a single lifetime? How many people can get a chance to show others the lives of diverse figures through singing and dancing? Perhaps this is a quite unique quality that is allowed only to musical actors, and Jung Sang-yoon is one of them. From Dae-hak-ro to Sejong Performing Arts Center, Jung has been spending busy days, acting out the varied lives of many different people – from an anguished musician tormented by jealousy to a fervent lover who loves another man.
*The Yonsei Annals*: What inspired you to become a musical actor?
Jung: Since I was young, I have been interested in musicals. Luckily, during my high school years, I was still interested in singing and listening to music, so I decided to become a musical actor and applied to study theater in college. Before I made my debut as an actor, I also thought of becoming a voice actor. However, instead, I found being a musical actor as a very appealing job, which is why I chose to become one. While I was majoring in theater, I was fortunate enough to learn both acting and singing. Through my major, I naturally encountered musicals and earned opportunities for auditions, which marked the start of my career.
*Annals*: What do you think is the unique beauty of musicals?
Jung: Musical is a unique composite art in that it requires the harmony of dancing, acting and music. Furthermore, because “drama” is one of musicals’ strongest features, both moderation and disclosure of emotions are required. In musicals, the songs are sung as if verses are spoken, which dramatizes a particular scene, and I think this is the true charm of a musical.
*Annals*: Who was your most memorable character among the roles you played, and what were your favorite lines from that character?
Jung: The character Salieri from the musical *Salieri** was the most memorable character for me because it was the first time I acted as a musician, in a musical about music. It was one of the works that I was deeply into, because I could relate to the figure well. After all, I am a musical actor, and basically much of my life is about music too, just like the character Salieri that I played.
I would say the most memorable line of Salieri is, “Would the people remember my music?” Today, Mozart’s music is well known and many recognize Mozart even by his melodies. However, although Salieri also lived during the same period as Mozart, not many people recognize Salieri’s music. As a musician, I felt a great sympathy towards the forgotten artist, who had a higher reputation than Mozart in society at the time.
*Annals*: Have you been in the shoes of Salieri? What advice would you give for the students who are suffering from geniuses around them?
Jung: I did not have the same experience as Salieri, but I experienced a similar jealousy. I graduated from a local university, so I always envied the students in Seoul who could easily have access to many of the musicals and plays. It was never easy for me to watch a musical, as I went to a college outside of Seoul. Untroubled, my friends and I decided to make and practice musicals of our own. This experience turned out to be a great help later on. I think it is true that geniuses are a step ahead of others. Nevertheless, I believe effort is the most important factor to become the best. They should not be conscious of the geniuses around them but instead they should live and lead their own life.
*Annals*: You are currently performing in a play named *Pride*. Please give the readers an introduction about *Pride*.
Jung: This play is set in London, England and the play jumps between time periods, from 1958 to 2014. The characters of 1958 and 2014 have the same names but are totally different people and are related in no other ways but one - homosexuality. The characters of 1958 and 2014 are both homosexuals. Yet, as the time period in which each character is living is different, the story of the two men in 1958 and in 2014 differs. Although the subject of the play is about homosexuality, this play makes the audiences think about our own intrinsic existence and look back at our own egos and personalities.
One of my favorite lines in this play is, “We have a history.” When you think about it, every single moment that we live will eventually become a part our history. The story of *Pride* is essentially this: making our own history. Homosexuality has existed long before 1958. However, homosexuality has been treated differently depending on the era. Eventually, the oppressions and silences of the past result in us – the present. Through these ideas, *Pride* is a play that makes the audiences think not only about sexual minorities but also deeper into ourselves.
*Annals*: What efforts do you put in to impress the audience in every performance?
Jung: A musical is a one-shot production that you cannot record and replay like a movie. Therefore, the staging cannot be the same every time. Also, since a musical is performed live, the daily condition of an actor tends to influence the quality of the performance of that day. However, most musicals require the actors to put in all the energy the actors have because musicals have to show the audience the whole life of a person and impress the audience at the same time. I, therefore, try my best to drive and use up all my energy every time on stage, which is really strenuous. To give the best performance, I try to collaborate with my colleagues for better teamwork. We talk and discuss about the work a lot.
To convey the explosive energy every time, I have to physically strain myself, which is why I try to manage my fitness constantly. Because I am a musical actor, keeping my voice in shape is the primary concern. To do so, I drink a lot of water to keep myself hydrated and moisten my throat. I also sleep a lot to recharge so that I can work to my fullest on the stage. If I do not get enough sleep, my throat dries up and eventually I cannot sing at my best. Actually, I have my own know-how to warm up my throat, which is drinking a bowl of hot soup. When I drink hot soup, it feels like the steam of the soup moistens and warms my throat up. Now, drinking hot soup became one of my eating habits.
*Annals*: Could you give any advice for Yonsei University students?
Jung: Whatever the students do – whether it is studying or hanging out - I think sincerity is what every student should keep in mind. They need to be earnest by thinking and practicing incessantly. Also, everyone has his or her own strengths and weaknesses. They need to try to build up their strengths and make up for their weaknesses through constant contemplation and efforts. Lastly, I want the Yonsei University students to enjoy themselves. With a beautiful campus and good facilities, I want them to enjoy their life as much as they can, but in a meaningful way.