We were well entertained on each of the three nights we spent in Seoul. The first night I’ve already described: the curious events at the Daewonyojung restaurant.
The following night we went to Cookin’, a dance and percussion extravaganza performed by a troupe called Nanta. This show originated in Korea and has since travelled the world. It was at the 1999 New Zealand Arts Festival and is still going strong in its native land.
The programme synopsis of this utterly mad, wordless show reads: “An excellent cook, but the unmanly HEAD CHEF, a very sexy, masculine SEXY GUY, and the powerful, sassy, the only woman cook, HOT SAUCE! The three attractive, characteristic chefs start their day. Washing vegetable, carrying meat loafs, setting fire, cooks at NANTA kitchen is about to begin their busy job as always, then the ill-natured manager orders them to prepare 10 wedding ceremony menus, along with his little nephew, in just a hour. Suddenly the kitchen is thrown into turmoil and the cooks become wild as the chop, beat and stir in an attempt to meet the deadline. The wedding ceremony is at 6 o’clock and it is at hand. Will the NANTA cooks complete the preparation on time?”
The show was as confused as the synopsis, but very enjoyable. In some ways, the maniacal percussive activity reminded me of New Zealand’s early Front Lawn shows on steroids.
Here’s a promo video for Cookin’:
On our last night in town we went to a more dance and gymnastics oriented show in the large Walkerhill theatre at the Sheraton Grande. Again it was great entertainment. The first half had performances by native Koreans – partly traditional, partly modern adaptations. Really excellent, and extremely colourful.
The second half had a Russian troupe in a show called Todes. Different from the Korean performance in that it was faster, more athletic and very contemporary. Again I’ll reproduce the idiosyncratic Korean synopsis: “The Todes heathens of the ballet world are bringing a whole new flare [sic] to the concept of classic ballet. Break free from the pretty white tutus, ballet toe shoes, and graceful chignon buns, and embrace yourself for provocative corsets, knee-high boots, and sexy smoky–make–up. Experience a one–of–a–kind ‘Contemporary Russian Dance’ performed by 23 world-class Russian dancers from the native home of ballet, Bolshoi. Audiences will be swept off their feet after they experience this show.”
Photography was forbidden, but I sneaked a few. Here’s one:
Given all the expensive entertainment and accommodation that was lavished on us in Korea, it was a huge relief that the e-waste recycling facilities and culture we’d come to Korea to check out, really did check out well.