KOREA IS blessed with a plethora of creative and individualistic performances. Nan-ta, for one is a great example of an original Korean performance well known all over the world. The Original Drawing Show continues this legacy. As the world’s first nonverbal performance combining visual arts and dance, The Original Drawing Show displays an unprecedented form of an original stage piece. Since the show’s first appearance in 2004, it has been massively successful in entertaining the Korean public as well as international visitors looking for exotic experiences in Korea. Some theater-going fans might hesitate to purchase a ticket to the show on the misconception that art might seem too elusive a subject. And yet, by combining jest and active audience participation, the performance showcases the extraordinary process of art being made right in front of our eyes.
As the world’s first known performance to display an art process on stage, the show truly displays genuine originality. Street performers in the past have utilized dance movements to display their process of creating art, but never before has this been orchestrated into an 80-minute long acting performance on stage. Those past street performances have been avant-garde, seeming quite inconceivable to the general public. The Original Drawing Show, however, differentiates itself by asserting the core value of art: that art should be easy and accessible to everyone. That is why this performance targets audiences of all age, sex and even cultural background, one of greatest assets of this show.
Avant-garde street performances were not the inspiration in creating this show, however. The director of this show, Kim Jin-kyu has mentioned how he always dreamed of taking on new challenges and embracing unconventionality. “Of course this thought lingered on until I became an adult,” he said. One day, while he was delightfully immersed in the process of painting, he inadvertently started to dance. As his friend saw him in this mirthful state, she playfully admonished him to “to stop putting on a show.” That was when the thought hit his quirky self: “I might as well put this on as a show.” And thus was born the Original Drawing Show.
The most noteworthy element in this performance is how actively the performers engage the audience. The audience is deliberately invited into the process of creation. For example, performers constantly break the fourth wall and roam around the audience seats, and they also interact with the audience by pulling them up on the stage, asking them to draw, and handing out free paintings. One of the interesting features of the show is that each of the characters on stage has a unique persona. Their faces are painted frivolously, clothes are splattered with colorful paint, and they sometimes act in an idiotic manner. asinine behavior. These performers are called the “The Look,” which is also the subtitle of The Original Drawing Show. Their act is supposed to resemble the naiveté of mirthful children. They wear dark and modest clothing to divert the audience’s attention away from themselves and to the art. They also act infantile to lower themselves and demonstrate to the audience that art is easy and fun. In a simple yet ingenious way, the show shatters the stereotype of art as esoteric. Most of the performance is humorous and upbeat, a feat difficult to accomplish with nonverbal acting. But the performers’ slapstick and enthusiastic dance moves keep the audience entertained and laughing. If there were any drawbacks to this performance, one might sense some redundancy in the prolonged session of humorous acting.
It is actually quite shocking to find out that none of the talented performers - who seemed versatile in all aspects of art, acting, dancing, and drawing - was trained as a specialist in art. Ironically enough, the show did not perform at its best when the performers consisted of professional artists, the director noted. “Many of them were unwilling to co-operate but saturated themselves with egotistical mannerisms,” mentions the director. “It was the humility of the actors and their enthusiasm to learn what made this show possible.”
The show features seven different forms of art, including
: speed drawing, flower drawing, luminous drawing, marbling, light drawing, finger drawing and landscape drawing. They all provide an awe-inspiring spectacle. For example in speed drawing, an artist draws a dynamic portrait of Napoleon on a two-meter blank canvas in only a few minutes. The sight is truly mesmerizing. Not only this, the actors create flower drawing using pastels, display an illuminating view using light, and use the marbling to craft an impressionistic painting of a flower.
The show utilizes multitudinous materials like light, shadows, and glow-in-the-dark torches to create artistic pieces. One of the most sublime aspects of this show is the luminous drawing that uses lasers and phosphorescent paper material to create an incandescent composition. The process seems simple and fail-proof. But with hundreds of different products and a legion of variables, the flawless luminous drawing does not emerge from a single effort. It has been the result of tireless trials and errors, testing every product and material until the art could approach its perfection. Also, the director of the original drawing show Kim Jin-kyu mentioned, all of the art processes are results crafted from the strenuous efforts and tenacious trials from the staff and the actors.
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Contemporary art is not limited to any boundaries. Visual art, theater, and dance seem like completely disparate areas of art until they are molded into one on stage at *The Original Drawing Show*. In that, The Original Drawing Show stands as an epitome of modern art and a proud representative of Korean performances. If there were any readers intimidated by the idea of art, hopefully they tumble down this rootless fear upon viewing this show. The director and the creators of this show display true passion, and their diligent efforts and creativity reflect the definition of “zeal.”
* Box 1:
Date: September 1, 2015 ~ November 30, 2015
Price: VIP \60,000 / R \50,000 / S \40,000
Place: Kyunghyang Newspaper building drawing show theatre