Saturday, August 27, 2011

Idiocy In Theatre

I sit here in front of my computer when I should be sitting in seat B24 in the circle of the large theatre at the new Yongsan Art Hall. I should be watching a Sherlock Holmes influenced magic concert starring 최현우. I've walked out of a couple of plays before, but this is the first time I walked out of one before it even started...

First if all I should say that I'm very happy that Yongsan has an art hall and that it's located in Itaewon. I'm also very happy that Yongsan residents get 50% off tickets to any show there. Thank you Yongsan, that's great, it's super, it's absolutely wonderful and I love you dearly. However, there are a couple of things that need to be sorted out.

First - If you want people to come and see your shows then you should really start advertising them ahead of time. As you can see from your pretty little website, the only thing advertised is the aforementioned Arthur Conan Doyle based extravaganza. Beyond the middle of September? Who knows? It's just a glorious field of 준비중입니다 signs. I'd love to start booking tickets for upcoming shows, but that's not going to happen if you don't tell me what's going on. I was lucky enough to stumble past the Yongsan Art Hall last Saturday and noticed that something was actually on. Lucky me.

Second - You don't have any English pages on your website. That's ok. I'll live with that, I'm a big boy and I'll do my best to navigate through the internet using my stumbling Korean. However, when it comes to booking tickets, rather than booking online or by phone, I find it's much easier to come down to the box office and book face to face. That way if the staff member and I have any communication problems we can use the miracle of body language and other tried and tested techniques to get the message across. However, when I tried to go into the theatre to buy tickets last week, I was told I had to book by phone (in Korean) if I wanted to get my Yongsan resident discount. I'm a Yongsan resident... I live in Itaewon... I am standing in front of you with a pile of cash and my alien registration card... Would it be so hard to take the booking? Really? Really?

Third - I booked by phone yesterday. You said you reserved a seat for me. You said I could pay at the box office. I got to the box office today and you had no record of my booking. You sold me a ticket anyway at the box office. Even though the last time I went to the box office you said I couldn't buy my Yongsan resident discount ticket at the box office. You seem to be contradicting yourself...

Fourth - I'm a poor artist so I went for the cheap seats up in the circle. Normally I love the circle, you get a great view of everything, a little bit of distance from the stage and a chance to throw chewing gum into the hair of those in the pricier seats below. I was happy with seat B24 up in the circle - on the little auditorium map it looked like a great seat with a great view. Perfect, Yongsan Art Hall, you've given me a great ticket at a great price and I get to watch a tiny cherub faced Korean man pretend to be a Victorian detective whilst messing about with cards for an hour and forty minutes.

I get up to the circle fifteen minutes before showtime and things start to seem a little less perfect. You seem to have put a rather large clear plastic barrier in front of the circle seats. You seem to have done it for safety purposes and yet you don't seem to have noticed that this rather large and obtrusive plastic barrier obstructs the view and significantly diminishes the enjoyment of the circle seated spectators, especially for those looking to involve themselves in a Moriarty antagonizing wizardry related experience.

For the first time in my life I walked out of a show before it had even started and I went back to the box office where you told me that you didn't give refunds directly before a show starts. I explained myself and you gave me a refund. This time I was very happy that you contradicted yourself.

I go to the theatre so that there is no barrier or screen between myself and the performer. I have been to hundreds of venues where audiences in the circle have been absolutely safe without the use of a large plastic barrier. You may be worried about safety (and that's a good thing to worry about), but you also have to worry about the audience experience of a show. If I want to watch a man in a deerstalker produce a rabid phosphorescent hound from a hat, then I want to do it without having to squint through plastic.

Sort yourself out Yongsan Art Hall. I'm only saying this because I love you and I want you to succeed.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


We're off on tour, so if you happen to be in Edinburgh this week then stop by the King's Theatre and say hello to the Mokwha Repertory Company.

We'll be performing The Tempest on Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday (13th-16th August) at 7.30 pm. There'll be Shakespeare, Shamans and English Supertitles. Full details at the Edinburgh International Festival website here.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Radio Days

Well, it seems that every Wednesday morning just after 11.30 you'll be able to hear me waffling about Korea on TBSeFM's 1013 Main Street program.

I'll be on this morning if any of you care to listen in and I'll be talking about the joys of ddeok-galbi, one of my favourite meaty Korean dishes.

Listen in if you dare...