While many expats in Korea seek out different cultural festivals, events and shows when they first come to the Land of the Morning Calm, inevitably there comes a time when one appreciates a good ‘ole play in English. If you haven’t heard of the Seoul Players yet, then why haven’t you?
Seoul Players are a non-profit English speaking theater company that was formed at the end of 2001 by Roman Zolnierczyk, an Australian thespian seeking to fill a void. The group are currently – and constantly – accepting anyone interested in performing, volunteering and producing and of course they are always hoping to expand their audience and welcome more viewers to check them out.
Seoul Players aims to stage one to two main productions each year and since 2011, the group have held an annual shadow cast production of Rocky Horror which is usually showcased around (you guessed it) Halloween. They have also organized a 10 Minute Play Festival each fall since their conception, which has become more popular as the years have gone by – and it’s arriving on stage this month.
The annual 10 Minute Play Festival features veteran actors as well as those new to the stage in Korea. They compete for glory and to be able to say they outlasted on stage some of the best in town. This year, 16 plays have been chosen from over 200 submissions. Once the scripts have been set, the Seoul Players put out an open call for directors who are chosen not only by their experience but more importantly their enthusiasm for a piece. This is closely followed by open auditions for aspiring actors and, after availability has been established for both actors and directors, the grueling work to bring the whole event together really just gets started.
On November 13 and 14, 16 short plays will be pitted against each other, ending in a battle to choose four winners by the end of the night. Certainly, one appealing thing about this festival is that due to the short 10-minute duration of the plays, audience members can view eight fun plays in one night, keeping them enticed and stimulated. Winners from this first weekend will compete in a final stage-off a week later on November 21, with this year’s selections covering everything from dark and light comedies to hard-hitting dramas. If you want a night (or a couple of evenings) of laughter, awe, or maybe a little sadness and romance, the Seoul Players are waiting for you. This year’s line-up includes “Sinners on a Southbound Bus,” a drama with a McCarthy-like scenario, while another group will present “Michael Prince’s Capstone Performance,” a comedy making fun of pretentious theatre.
This year 30 members of the cast are new to the festival and two directors are bringing seven actors up from Daejeon. Enjoy a November weekend of entertainment and head out to support the 55 directors and actors that have put so much time and effort into what will likely be an inspiring, humorous and satisfying selection of productions.
Behind the scenes…
Sarah Grover, the Administrative Director who has been working with Seoul Players for the past three years, shares her thoughts on Seoul Players and the festival…
Though I have not acted or directed in this festival, last year I was the stage manager and this year I am the producer. Working on a show of this size has been quite rewarding. It has been fun being able to meet so many new directors and actors from both last year’s and this year’s festivals. It has given me a great feeling being able to give both new directors and new actors a chance to participate and perform in our festival when they might not have another option. It’s been most rewarding seeing the process all the way through, from auditions to performances and seeing how much actors and directors, new and old, change and grow in their craft. We are excited to be able to give new actors and directors another go. Having so many participants is a fantastic way to appeal not only to patrons of theatre, but to individuals outside of the theatre community. We have an exciting two weekends coming up this November that will be filled with lots of tears and laughter.
Erica Gambino, a stage manager that has been working with Seoul Players, answered some questions on her experience with the 10 Minute Play Festival and what she thinks people should look forward to…
I started collaborating with Seoul Players in November 2014. This is my second production with them, my first show being “Glengarry Glen Ross.” This is my first time stage managing Seoul Player’s 10-minute play festival. My favorite part is helping everyone collaborate and see their vision come to life on stage.
Pre-production through to the production of a show is a long term commitment. Sometimes it takes years of training, rehearsing, rewriting before you can finish something and get it up on its feet. The 10 Minute Play Festival is a shortcut, a steroid shot to your longer term goal. Writers have a chance to see their work put on its feet and have a chance to be a finalist and win some cash! It gives theater artists a chance to work on new material and for the audience to see something entirely new.
The exciting part about 10 Minute Plays is to see which plays will make the final cut and be chosen to perform again on Saturday the 21st. And then of course, to see who is the winner. I would tell people to come one of the days the first weekend and then come to the Finals to see which plays made it. Who will you root for?
Event: 10 Minute Play Festival
When: November 13, 2015 at 9PM
Where: The Arts Tree Theatre, Guro, 501 Guro-gu Guro 5-dong, Basement Level
November 14, 2015 8:00pm
Finals: November 21, 2015 8:00pm
Admission: Adults KRW 15,000; Students KRW 10,000 (ID necessary)