Going the Distance with the Distancing Effect

pansori project za, pansori brecht sacheon-ga @ mca, 9/25/10.

Jaram Lee and Pansori Project Za.

Pansori Brecht Sacheon-Ga by the Pansori Project ZA featured a Korean group using a modernized form of the traditional Korean storytelling style known as pansori to present Bertolt Brecht’s A Good Woman of Szechwan, a European modernist play set in the traditional East.

The oscillations between old and new, east and west, were so dizzying, the hybridities so intense, that they generated a powerful forward motion, a forceful message about the baffling suffering produced by global economic pressures whose origins seem invisible, but whose effects always strike close to home.

Jaram Lee, a successful singer in South Korea, took on the central role as sorikkun or singer and narrator. Along with the wild accompaniment of the musicians—drummers and a bassist—and the playful gestures of three dancers, her virtuosic vocal style criss-crossed between Brecht’s famous effort to intensify the artifice of theater and pansori’s own magically-jarring movements between direct address and character acting.

Vast distances proved surmountable—even advantageous—when it came to the distancing effect.


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