“SQUEAK, SQUEAK …” The audience hushes to observe fretfully the secret admirer creep up on the disheartened woman. No, the squeaking noise isn’t coming from the unbalanced stage of the theater; it’s coming out of the man’s mouth! As the woman turns in his direction, while screaming out the word, “Eeep!” the man jumps back, and the audience release their anxiety and break into roaring laughter. This playful performance, the Cartoon Musical Doogun-Doogun, is a touching love story that is full of onomatopoeia and cyber language.
The heart-touching story
This secret admirer,who had aroused the audience’s curiosity from the beginning, is a poor, lonely man who has to celebrate his birthday by himself. His life is full of mishaps, and after many calamities at his home he decides to take a walk in the park. By chance, he witnesses a pretty woman getting dumped by her boyfriend. The woman cannot control herself, for she is too overcome with grief, and the lonely witness tries to console her, having nothing better to do anyway.
As the woman walks off-stage, the man is overwhelmed by a strange feeling. He hears his heartbeat, and cannot control his strange emotions, which keep on making him laugh. “Giggle giggle giggle…” Strangely enough, these words are all that come out of the man’s mouth, because the characters in this play sound out each of their motions and feelings. What is more interesting is that before falling in love this character had not uttered a single sound. Tickled by his happy emotions, he prepares a bouquet of flowers to confess his love to the woman who swept his heart away.
“Argh! Sweep, sweep. Pant pant pant…” As the man awaits the woman, he sweeps the park and makes sure everything is picture-perfect. However, their relationship does not flow so smoothly, for, as any other relationship, the two face troubles and conflicts. Because at first they deny their emotions and try to hide their feelings, they misunderstand each other and do not see their love. As time goes by, the two start to recognize each other as their own true loves, and finally they become a couple.
The love story is plain, but its delivery is quite original in that such active auditory technique is a new approach. The frank expression of emotions help the audience better sympathize with the characters’ bashful love story.
A staged cartoon
This musical performance is categorized as a cartoon musical. All the actors and actresses on-stage make strange noises, and actually sound out everything that they do, with words such as “sweep, sweep” or “pant, pant.”The scene of love-at-first-sight is expressed through the actor’s motions and the words, “Boing! Thump thump thump…” This type of setting makes the audience feel as though they are watching a cartoon, hence the term “cartoon musical.” Just like in some cartoons, the musical consists of no sentences or phrases, and it only has onomatopoeia and cyber language to show the characters’ emotions. Actually, this technique of expressing the characters’ emotions is an excellent way to approach the audience as well as help them feel empathy. Instead of a one-line speech, “I am nervous,” the words, “pace, pace, stop. Peeking… EEP!” are more effective in helping the audience fidget anxiously along with the character. Since the colloquial everyday language and slang are more familiar to ordinary people, the audience can readily recognize and comprehend these words.
Human stage props
Doogun-Doogun is staged at a small theater, and thus it has a minimal number of stage props, and maximizes the use of actors and actresses. The actors off-stage come and go as the two main characters carry on with their love story, singing the chorus and serving as backdrops. Sometimes they appear from the tree-bark and oftentimes they pop up out of nowhere. These factors help make the show more comical, and the active voice participation as well as chorus-singing enhance the nature of the musical. Although the sound effects may at times seem unrealistic, they are supportive of the performance’s comical aspect.
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As these complicated sound effects and onomatopoeic expressions prove, love cannot simply be expressed through words. Fancy chocolate-covered words may be able to win a girl’s heart, but they are not enough to perpetuate true love. Feelings cannot be demonstrated with just words, as language cannot cover the magnificent emotions love brings forth. Love needs the help of actions, words, sounds, and, most of all, emotions. Furthermore, such emotions are depicted in this cartoon musical through the special method of portraying them through sounds. The audience is able to actually hear the different sounds that love makes, and all the fluctuations and increase of emotions can literally be heard. If you are looking for a chance to feel pure love, as well as witness an open-hearted and inartificial confession, check out this cartoon musical!
Annals: Why do you think this musical is special?
Actors: Unlike other musicals, in this musical the actors and actresses use only onomatopoeia and cyber language, just like in cartoons. Also, instead of using MRs and other sound devices, the actors and actresses backstage make all the sound effects with their own voices. These people can recreate gunshots, raindrops, and all the auditory effects within the musical, and they take care of all our movements as well as expressions with their mouths.
A: Is there anything you would like to tell the audience?
Actors: The subtitle of this play is “love is like a hyo-ja-son”. A hyo-ja-son is a stick that you use to scratch any itchy parts of your body that your hands cannot reach. A lover is like a hyo-ja-son in that when your back itches, he or she can scratch it for you. All lonely and loving people should come here if they want to find true love.
Annals: Why is the musical titled Doogun-Doogun?
Jeon: I thought about what love would actually sound like. I came up with the answer that perhaps one could hear his or her own heart beating when feeling love.
A: Could you briefly explain the history of this musical?
It first started out as a play, but later I considered that using live acappella music would add to the cartoon nature of the performance. Rather than having a band backstage, it is more fun and lively to have actors and actresses sing and make the sound effects. As far as I know, this type of musical is a unique performance consisting solely of Korean onomatopoeia.
Genre: Cartoon Musical
Date: Open Run
Price: 10,000 won