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What Hong Seong-min has done, for a 'multiple' interpretation of Shakespeare's classical tragedy, is not 'directing' but 'production.' For this project, Hong assigned one of the five actors (Kim Hye-ji, Lee Ju-young, Chu Eun-kyung, Kim Yo-a and Lee Ji-hyun) to each of the five directors (Nam Joo-kyung, Kim Jin-kyoung, Kim Su-hui, Won Chun-gyu and Park Hye-sun). He then commissioned the performance and directing of the renowned female protagonist's role from Romeo and Juliet. Julietttt unfolds the dialogue and acting of the 5 Juliets, each under one's own assigned director. The 5 Juliets, appear on the same stage: all at the same time.



No other characters exist on the stage, not even Romeo.  In addition, there is no other mise-en-scene on the stage, besides a chair, to deliver the extreme setting. The five Juliets pour over their own performances. Like a hat worn by many people rather than one wearing many hats, each of the actresses are like vendors in a market, requesting undivided attention from the audience. The pure loftiest love is split by clamorous egoists. Does the source of love eventually just root from nasty fierce narcissism? Shakespeare's delicate words of love are degraded into a noise pollution through the orderless collision and overlapping of the actresses' voices. The harmony of chorus of voices and the moments of coincidence (or perhaps miracle) when the melodies of different times overlap causes something close to a resonance in the discussion of the dissolved love. Of course, that is a dull dry resonance without even a staccato of an echo.


There is no recognition of or response to each other's presence between the 5 vulnerable characters. They're wholly immersed in their own worlds, faithfully acting out their own roles. They co-exist in one place, but never symbiotically.  The stage (like the overlapped screen of the movie) is an overlapping of several independent diegesis, as well as being a proliferation of symbols of a nonexistent original(like in Warhol's silk screen prints). Like the reproduced beings in the movie Island, the five symbols become a medium that magnifies one's own characteristic, as well as becoming the assailant that fatally harms each other's individuality. They are each other's competitors as well as doppelganger, each other's alternate ego and simultaneously the 'other.'


The suture between the performer and the character, traditionally based on reproduced theater, is left in a lose form. It is utterly impossible if the repetition is done in a dialectical progress. The depersonalized symbols become a medium of language, not a subject. As in Lacan's acclaimed proposition, the main characters of utterance are not human subjects, but is language.


When paradigm is repeated between the two axis that causes the utterance, which are the paradigm for the choice and syntagma that forms a horizontal list, or when paradigm mimics the structure of syntagma to horizontally expand the system of vertical symbol, the signifier becomes uncanny. The theatrical action of expressing emotional motive and meaning is degenerated into meaningless gesture. It's a gesture that traverses the empty irrational vanity rather than being a refined 'movement' shaped by the director's thought. Roland Barthes' 'Death of the Author' is cast as a threat to the five directors, the producer Hong Seong-min, and even to the original author, Shakespeare. The linguistic principle of traditional theater which bases on tragedy, becomes dwarfed.


 The Hollywood version's original sound track fills the intermission and tries to cite the aura of Olivia Hussey's from the collective memory; but it all the more adds to the indecency of the unfamiliar stage. Obviously there cannot be any space for unrivaled truth to establish authenticity in this stage where the group dance of futile symbols run rampant. It's a place filled with emptiness where the summoned collective memory finds no place to settle, and one reverts back to the question about the essence of theater. It's a vacant lot in which lurks the questions about futile symbols and collective memory, and artistic experience.


                                        Suh Hyun-seok, professor at Yonsei University



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Posted by EYEBALL_Media Arts Webzine


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