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Big Screen Actors Make Presence Felt on Small Stage

2005/10/31 Source

By Bae Keun-min
Staff Reporter

Sol Kyung-gu, left, famous for such films as "Peppermint Candy", stars with Kim Bo-young in the play "Love Letters".
Stars of the big screen are increasing their presence on the theater stage.

Yoo Ji-tae, who starred in the film "Antarctic Journal" in 2005 and "Old Boy" in 2003, will perform in "Six out of Sixth (Yukpunui Yuk)" from Dec. 1 to Jan. 1 at Sadari Art Center (02-541-4519) in Taehangno, Seoul. He is also the play's producer.

Yoo, who made his screen debut with the 1998 film "Bye June", appeared on stage for the first time last year. In the two-person drama "The Tidal Wave" (Haeil), Yoo played a North Korean Army officer who works with a farmer to protect a village during the Korean War.

Moon Sung-geun, who showed off his acting skills in "To the Starry Island" in 1993, "A Petal" in 1996 and "Jealousy Is My Middle Name" in 2002, will act in "Until Getting Dried and Worn (Marugo Taltorok)" to be staged at Seoul Arts Center from Dec. 1 to 17 (02-747-1010).

Moon will play Spanish mafia Don Carlos who sends his subordinates to the Korean government to receive royalties for the copyright of the Korean national anthem, based on Symphonic Fantasia Korea by maestro Ahn Ik-tae.

It will be Moon's first play in 10 years. Moon has gone on to pursuing an acting career on screen and TV since he starred in the drama "Play Land" in 1995.

Sol Kyung-gu, who became a film star after "Peppermint Candy" in 2000 and "Oasis" in 2002, is playing the role of Andrew Makepeace in the play "Love Letters" by Albert Ramsdell Gurney.

His last stage appearance was in the rock musical "Subway Line 1" in 1999. However, it is the first time in nine years for Seol to perform in a play, his last being "The Snake Groom and His Wife (Kurongi Sillanggwa Kui Sinbu)" in 1996.

"Love Letters", which traces the lifelong correspondence between Andrew, a lawyer, and an artist named Melissa, is being presented at Hanyang Repertory Theater (02-764-6460) until the end of the year. Five couples will take turn to perform for the drama.

Having a film star in a play is considered a win-win strategy for both the actor and the play. For the theater, which overall has been struggling financially with decreasing audiences, a celebrated actor is a strong asset.

At the same time, actors take advantage of being on stage, breathing with audiences through performing live and examining their acting skills.

"The most attractive aspect of drama is that I have to perform live in front of a live audience", Sul said. Sul said something that an actor never expects can come out while performing drama if he receives the energy from the audience. That is the charm of theater.

"Some young stars take the challenge of the stage to prove their acting. They want to get the image of a serious actor and not just be a star", one performance planner said.

However, for Moon and Sul, who debuted as a stage performer first, appearing on stage is also like returning home. Many theater actors and actress shine in TV dramas and films, Lee Youn-taek, artistic director of the National Drama Company of Korea, noted. "These days, the film industry does not operate without theater actors. Theater is the ABC's in all kinds of acting fields", Lee said.

Theater actor-turned-film stars contribute to attracting audiences for their "hometown". There is the number of people in a long queue to see Sul's performance, selling out many performance-runs featuring Sul.

In summer, Yoo Oh-sung, who moved from theater to the screen and starred in the 1999 film "Attack the Gas Station!" and the 2002 film "Friend", brought his fans to theater with his stage return after an 8-year hiatus. He performed for "Tape", written by American playwright Stephen Belber.

Although it helps to boost incomes, there is concern that so-called "celebrity marketing" for the struggling theater scene may not be helpful over the long-term.

"People come to see for the spectacle of film stars. Thus, it is possible that other theater actors in the same drama or other plays could be disregarded, as the stars get all the attention", said a performance planner in Taehangno, the nation's largest theater district.

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