The lights turn on, and a small replica court appears in front of the audience. A man stands looking frightened, as in a few minutes, the judge and jury will decide the fate of his flesh and blood. Disturbing and murderous as it may sound, the plot left to unravel will in fact please the audience as the performers release their creative talents. The incredible faces put on stage are from members of the Korea University Theater Club (KUTC), prepared with a whole lot of blood and sweat. They aim to blow winds of good energy and artistry into the campus of Korea University (KU).
Korea University Theater Club (KUTC) is a student-led organization at Korea University (KU) that consists of students interested in the art of drama and performance. With an 87 year-long history since the Boseong College Theater Conference in 1932, KUTC continues with more exquisite and meaningful performances each year. This semester, the organization has successfully ended six performances of their latest play titled “The Jury of Venice.”
The president of KUTC, Lim Tae Sung (’18, Media and Communication), shares that one of the most important attributes of the student organization is the freedom that each member gets to enjoy. There are no minimum or maximum period requirements, and members can freely participate in a performance of their choice. Lim elaborates that the club’s activities can be broadly divided into four parts: welcoming performances, “Workshop” performances, regular performances, and regular club meetings called “Theater Day.”
Diverse Activities for Theater-Lovers
The regular theater performances of the club are usually organized and performed in teams of ten to twenty students. Out of all the performances of KUTC, the regular performances require the most practice and commitment during vacation as it premieres with the start of a new semester. The atmosphere of each regular performance is different depending on the performing team, but their hard work always shines through to the audience. The performance information is released to KU students through social media, such as Facebook, in the form of card news, and tickets are both pre-sold and sold at the site at an inexpensive amount.
▲ Card of the character "Antonio" from the play. Provided by Korea University Theater Club Facebook Page
Members of KUTC practice for the “Workshop” performances during the semester and perform them just before the final examinations. “Workshops” usually take up almost as much budget as the organization’s regular performances and entail a great amount of effort as students have to study at the same time. “Theater Days” are what KUTC calls the small performances for freshmen held every Thursdays during the semester. New student members gain the opportunity to learn about the roles of actors and actresses, as well as the staff.
Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice”
The latest performance by KUTC, “The Jury of Venice,” was held at the Cinematheque on the sixth floor of the Student Union Hall. The team behind the production of this performance, named “Do Whatever You Like,” adapted their play from Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice.” The classic 16th-century play tells the story of a trial against a moneylender that wants his debtor’s flesh as collateral.
Members of the Korea University Theater Club team play the roles of Antio, Shylock, and Witnesses, just as included in Shakespeare’s play. However, team “Do Whatever You Like” switched things up by including an audience-interactive feature. In each performance, the actors and actresses asked the audience some questions to have them decide the ending of the play. President Lim expressed his delight for the performance and added that “The team is quite verified and well-known for their experience at KUTC, so they did not have many hardships to cope with.”
▲ KUTC members performing. Provided by Korea University Theater Club Facebook Page
KUTC’s Ups and Downs
President Lim recollected that “Every moment with KUTC was fun” for him. “An episode that was particularly difficult and fun at the same time was when we had to check the stage lighting.” He continued that he and the members of the theater club usually prepared the Cinematheque for their performance after 11 P.M.—a time that would not disturb any other club associations. The stage checking procedure would go on until 5:30 A.M., when all the members finally head off to “Anam Land,” a sauna near KU. As so, the KUTC members turn hardships into joyous, lasting moments to look back on.
On another note, balancing their practices and studies can be a burden for the members of KUTC, if not everyone involved in student organizations. In that case, students would definitely find themselves contemplating over what to focus on more, their major studies or their club activities. President Lim explains, however, that KUTC offers a special solution for members with such concerns. “Members can just take a couple years off from performing, because there is no set period in which students have to participate.” This advantage allows the club’s members to reconnect with their school life for a while and come back to perform with more energy.
The members of KUTC seem to not only be experts in making the audience laugh and cry through their acting, but also in sailing against the wind or “Working hard to achieve something amid challenging circumstances,” as The Free Dictionary defines. President Lim hopes to find “Those who are passionate about acting and considerate” to join this journey with the rest of the organization. Recruitment information is posted on Facebook each year, and students can apply through KUTC’s online café to participate in the Orientation Training (OT) session afterwards. Auditions take place a couple days after the OT, followed by a New Member Welcoming Day. With excitement towards the new members, President Lim says, “It is worth a try. Come visit us.”