A Stunning Janggu Performance At Jeongdong Theater Seoul with Trazy
The Palace, a tale of Jang Noksu; a stunning traditional Korean performance is currently running at Jeongdong Theater Seoul, located behind Deoksu Palace. The magical show running till the end of July 2018 is a must see when in Korea! Read on to see my review on ‘The Palace’.
What To Expect At The Performance
1. The Palace, A Tale Of Jang Noksu
The place sets scene during the Joseon Dynasty (1494-1506), when king Yeonsan was in power. Noksu; a humble slave catches the eye of Prince Je-an and becomes a Gisaeng at the palace. During those days Gisaeng were similar to Japanese Geisha, female performers for the court and high ranked officials.
Prince Je-an thaught Jang Noksu all the skills for becoming a true Gisaeng, who not long after becomes a star, performing to all the noblemen of the former capital of Korea, Hanyang. Among those noblemen is the disguised King Yeonsan, nonetheless his disguise, Noksu recognizes him straightaway and treats him like one should treat a real King.
The seductive Noksu manages to get a grip on the King and becomes a powerful concubine to the King, controlling the whole of Joseon with her power. The poor Prince Je-an is heart broken, losing his best student, artist and even lover to the King Yeonsan. Despite his pain, he still tries to save Jang Noksu when he realizes the royal subjects will no longer accept Noksu’s power and are planning an attack. Sadly enough Noksu is too focused on keeping her power and ignores all warning signals; which leads to her tragic end.
2. Capturing Scenes And Dramatic Music
The play performed without words has some kind of ‘musical‘ style to it, heavenly focused on traditional Korean music and dance, making use of projection mapping to set the scenes.
The main instruments used during the play is the Janggu and the Buk. The traditional instrument Janggu is an hourglass shaped instrument with two heads made out of animal skin which each have a different pitch, representing the harmony of men and women. While the Buk is a shallow barrel-shaped drum, made of a round wooden barrel covered with animal skin on both sides.
Both instruments are played throughout the play by the very skillful actors; used for the happy joyful and the darker tragic scenes. As a Janggu player myself; it was astonishing to watch how the instrument was elevated from being just an instrument to being a center piece of the play.
The most impressive scene is where stubborn Noksu is trying to fight back the attackers but instead of using swords, they are using the Buk (traditional drum) as a shield and weapon. The attackers all dress in red robes; holding each a small Buk; as are getting closer and closer to Noksu, while she fights back with two wooden drum sticks, resulting in an astonishing dance-fight (see top video).
The Surrounding Neighbourhood
Jeongdong theatre lies at the back of Deoksu Palace (which is especially beautiful during autumn in Seoul), one of the five main palaces in Seoul famous for it’s elegant stone-wall surrounding the whole palace. It’s the only palace that is surrounded by modern looking buildings, which adds some sort of uniqueness to the scenery.
From Seoul City Hall and Gwanghwamun; the theater is just a 5 minute walk away. Seoul city hall, established in 1926, has a more imperial renaissance style. Until in 2008 a more modern looking building was constructed just behind the former city hall. Just next to Seoul City Hall lies the oh-so famous Gwanghwamun; the main square in front of Gyeongbok Palace and home to the statue of King Sejeong.
20 meters to the left of Jeongdong theater you will be able to find the best sandwich place in the whole of Seoul! No kidding. As a northern European myself, I am very picky when it comes to bread; but the homemade bread at ‘Le Pul’ is just like a little piece of heaven. Any sandwich you will try will be without a doubt delicious, however the ‘chicken & almond’ sandwich is just ‘wow’.
Go And See ‘The Palace’
The Palace is running each Tuesday to Sunday at 4 PM from 5th of April till the 31st of July 2018.
My trip Jeongdong Theater Seoul was sponsored by Trazy; but obviously thoughts and opinions are my own. Trazy is a foreigner friendly booking platform with all sorts of ‘discounted’ package deals from skiing to K-pop performances!
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