Introducing the theory of performance studies as a new approach to Korean theatre studies, the paper attempts to reexamine the utilization of tradition in Korean theatre from the new perspective. According to the theory of ‘restored behaviors’ in perf ...
Introducing the theory of performance studies as a new approach to Korean theatre studies, the paper attempts to reexamine the utilization of tradition in Korean theatre from the new perspective. According to the theory of ‘restored behaviors’ in performance studies, the utilization of tradition can not avoid the transformation because it recombines the traditional elements in the process of restoration. This transformation memorizes the past in a specific way, not only reflecting but also redefining our cultural identity. Based upon this theoretical approach, the paper attempts to study the theatrical utilization of tradition, asking the following question: what kind of behaviors does it restore, and how does it memorize and signify Korean view of life through the recombination of restored behaviors
At the level of restoring behaviors, the utilization of tradition in Korean theatre works within a ‘system.’ The system is divided into (1) the restoration system of tradition and (2) the modernization system so as to seek the modernization of tradition. The restoration system of tradition is again divided into ① shamanic form, ② mask dance form, ③ traditional form, and the modernization system is divided into ① the use of modern theatre, ② the use of modern issues, ③ the use of modern activities.
The plays utilizing tradition express Korean view of life, working within the above system. 〈Muldoridong〉shows the life dominated by the shamanic horror, which is overcome by the shamanic mysticism. It also depicts, through the mask dance form, the life filled with the struggle of desire and power. At this point the shamanic and mask dance forms collide with the musical form that praises the power of pure love, thus implying the conflict between tradition and western culture.
Employing the shamanic form,〈What it will be〉depicts the death of grudge(怨恨) which is responded by the useless buffoon acts in the interludes. Consequently the life of grudge is signified from the view of the theatre of the absurd. This viewpoint of the absurdity is also employed to see the life filled with the sexual plunder and the violence that is activated by the traditional customs and social system. The result is the westernization of tradition.
<O-Gu: the Form of Death> attempts to restore Korean form of death through the shaman rite and funeral, which is transformed into the cheerful play by the principle of laughter. As a result, the shaman rite and funeral are filled with activities deviated from the formal norms, depicting the life in which the deviation is the rule. The deviation from norms is a sort of ugliness. The ugliness, including snobbery such as worldly desire, appetite, and sexual desire, is expressed as a pleasant activity by the principle of laughter. The result is the spirit accepting the deviation and Philistinism as a source of vital life.
In spite of individual differences, the utilization of tradition employs a stereotyped scheme, that is, the shamanic world view. Thus we need to restore our tradition through the newer and more diversified viewpoint in order to seek the new vision of life.
From the above facts, it is plain that the utilization of tradition creates a specific world of spirit as it is recombined with the various theatrical views and activities. Thus the paper proposes to take performance studies as a new way of studying the cultural identity that is reflected and redefined in Korean theatre.