The Cho-in Theatre Company ended their two-week tour of England at the KCC on Monday. They’re now off to the Avignon Festival before returning for their now regular slot at the Edinburgh Fringe in August.
Cho-in was founded in 2002 by Chung-euy Park. It has a wily eye on the international market, with its productions generally non-verbal, and having hired an English international manager (Lucinda Walker – right), who introduced the company to the KCC audience this week.
The company’s first two productions sound homely enough. Their brochure says introduces their first production, The Train (70 mins), thus:
This beautiful Korean folktale explores the fragility of everyday life, and the endurance of human love.
Similarly, the second production:
The Angel and the Woodcutter is a traditional folk tale loved by Koreans. It tells the story of an angel who ventures down to earth to bathe in the mountain streams, where she is discovered by a woodcutter and his mother.
But both productions are far from being children’s theatre. In The Angel and the Woodcutter (75 mins), the woodcutter is pressganged to join the army, leaving the angel to fend for herself in a brutal world; while The Train includes some nightmarish figures including a pimp who extracts money from some poor orphan children.
Chung-euy Park expresses his mission thus:
Cho-in Theatre productions give a voice to the people who are physically and politically weak and who suffer the most during war, but also show the strength of humanity for survival and for love.
This mission is continued in their third production, the ironically titled Hotel Splendid (120 mins), which tells the story of four of Korea’s Comfort Women in the Pacific War. One of the characters in this play is as young as 11 when she is abducted to service the appetites of the Japanese military. This is Cho-in’s first verbal production, performed in Korean with surtitles.
The company has captivated audiences, and gathered some rave reviews. Occasional LKL correspondent Colin Bartlett saw The Angel and the Woodcutter twice last year at the Fringe, and is going back to see it again this year.
The Angel and the Woodcutter will be showing this year at the Zoo Southside in Edinburgh, 3 – 25 August. Here’s a trailer.
- Cho-in Theatre’s YouTube channel
- Cho-in Theatre’s home page (Korean only – English section not working at time of writing this)
- Book tickets on the Edinburgh Fringe website
The stills below are from a brief extract of the earlier part of the production performed at the KCC on Monday, where the angel is brought home by the woodcutter and his mother, and they start their married life together. After this, the tale turns darker.