A detailed mining of the Edinburgh Fringe website reveals twenty Korean performances plus one talk this year. Magic show Snap makes a return, along with the ever-popular drum show Tago, both part of a “Korean Season presented by AtoBiz Ltd” – who also bring new acts Kokdu and Ensemble Su. I must say I’m a bit confused by this “Korean Season” business given that the “season” accounts for less than a quarter of the Korean acts. Last time AtoBiz brought Binari, but this year that act has come on its own without the AtoBiz brand. Instead, AtoBiz are part-funding the appearance of Hwang Sok-yong at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.
This confusion aside, I’m excited about the line-up for this year. World music group E-Do are coming: they were responsible for one of my favourite albums of last year. Here’s the review from review on World Music Central:
Every once in a while I get the musical version of a kick in the pants and Korean musical ensemble E-Do’s Yeominrok … is that kick in the pants, smack to the kisser, punch to the gut and audible gobsmack all rolled into one. A brilliant, edgy, quirky blend of traditional Korean musical sensibilities, jazz and rock, Yeominrok is thrilling musical journey.
We have come to expect modern adaptations of familiar tales. This year we have Princess Bari, Medea and The Merry Wives of Windsor, with further theatre from Huam’s Black and White Tea Room. Two pieces with contrasting vocal music – Monkey Dance and Behind the Mirror – look interesting, while more music comes from Kla_vier (four young pianists) and Arisol: Samulnori. The UK-Korean dance collaboration Rosalind travels to Edinburgh (seen last year in London), those entertaining clowns Ongals also make a welcome return, martial arts combine with installation art in Death City, while Over the Moon combines visual arts with dance and music.
Start planning your August now. If it helps your planning, you can catch four of the acts (Snap, Death City, Black & White Tea Room and Behind the Mirror) in London on 27 July, and Tago will be doing an abbreviated set at the Korean Festival in London on 8 July.
Update 28 July. At the showcase at the Lilian Baylis Theatre last night they were handing out a booklet with all the Korea-related performances at the Fringe. They had missed out two of them (Ongals and Rosalind) but so had I (Mind-Goblin and Hello Potter).
So, in no particular order (other than that I include first the two shows I managed to leave off the list when I first posted this six weeks ago):
Identifying the foolish spirit of this confusing world as a mind goblin, Lee Kyung-eun spins out a shamanistic ritual that repels evil, harmful spirits. This Korean contemporary dance artist opens a portal to the goblins of her mind and body. She confronts and eventually befriends the other me inside, as in old folk tales, where people met goblins and danced with them all night. She comes to understand herself – her mind and body – as a universe unto itself. Ultimately, she recognises the beauty and diversity coexisting within her, and within all of us.
Magic Travel With Hello Potter and Uno
Group: Magic Travel / Free Fringe
Children’s Shows (magic, variety) | Suitability: U (4 and older)
Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters (Venue 272) | 10:15 Aug 3-27 | 50 minutes | Book tickets
Do you want to watch the best family show? You have to come and see this! Magic, balloon twisting, hand shadows, comedy… All that and much more in Magic Travel with performers Hello Potter and Uno. Amazing, fascinating, mystifying and thought-provoking storytelling in this hilarious performance for the whole family. Wizard Hello Potter and Balloon guy Uno have more than 10 years of experience as show men and have now, finally, made their own duo show. Adults can laugh and feel like children again and children can get a present while having fun.
Medea on Media
Multi award-winning take on this enduring classic tale. Medea betrays her family for love, following her husband, Jason, on his quest. But when he later abandons her for another, Medea takes her devestating revenge. An ancient tragedy is brought into contemporary light, to construct a new theatrical form. PAF Award for Best Theatre Production, Sibiu International Theatre Festival, Singapore International Festival of Arts, and Interference International Theatre Festival. ‘The perfect synthesis of the classic and the hyper-contemporary’ (Sinais Em Linha).
Introduction to the Korean Arts Market
Group: Korea Arts Management Service
Events (talk, true-life)
Fringe Central (Venue 2) | 15:30 Aug 18 | 1 hour 30 minutes | Book tickets
Korea Arts Management Service (KAMS) has established itself over the years as an important meeting point for cutting-edge artistic exchange and collaboration. This session will inform you all about the performing arts market in Korea and help you understand how to best access the Korean market. A networking opportunity for international artists, companies and producers interested in the Asian market.
The Korean Tale of Princess Bari
Group: Norrikkun (Korea)
Theatre (physical theatre, family)
C venues – C cubed (Venue 50) | 17:10 Aug 3-12 | 1 hour | Buy tickets
The traditional Korean tale of Princess Bari comes to life in this touching and inspiring production. Bari demonstrates bravery, valour, and a pure heart that will touch everyone who follows her journey.
Tago: Korean Drum II
Group: Group TAGO | Korean Season presented by AtoBiz Ltd | Website
Dance, Physical Theatre and Circus (music, performance art)
Assembly Rooms (Venue 20) | 15:15 Aug 3-20, 22-27 1 hour | Book tickets
Group Tago makes a welcome return to this year’s Fringe after wowing audiences last year, receiving standing ovations at every performance. Exciting, extreme and exhilarating, this is the ultimate drumming performance from the East. A breathtaking mixture of Korean traditional instruments, from gigantic drums to small percussion, spiced up with a hint of martial arts. Be amazed by the dexterity of all the performers. ‘A colourful fusion of drumming and dance’ (BroadwayBaby.com). ‘A must-see show’ (Stage). ‘Sheer joyous exuberance and skill’ (List). ‘High energy entertainment that commands the full attention of the audience’ (EdinburghGuide.com).
Group: Gruejarm Production | Korean Season presented by AtoBiz Ltd | Website | Facebook
Cabaret and Variety (magic, family) |
Assembly George Square Theatre (Venue 8) | 15:00 Aug 3-13, 15-20, 22-28 1 hour | Book tickets
‘The best magic show in 2016 Edinburgh Fringe’ (BroadwayWorld.com) and Best Production at Asian Arts Award 2016. The world’s greatest illusion artists from Korea bring you an astounding, enchanting experience of a lifetime. Snap is a multi-faceted art performance based on magic with ingenious stage language, mime, comedy and more. When the three tricksters find a sealed door, which transcends all of space and time, they encounter various characters such as the Alchemist and the Dreamer. Together, they will take you through a fantasy experience never before seen in the history of the Fringe. (LKL review here)
Binari: Memory of Mother
A story about the life of an old woman who has been numbed by a difficult and challenging life. She arrives at the end of her life, but she cannot leave the world in peace. The woman represents the mother figure who has Han. This journey incorporates Korean folk songs, rituals, dances, artefacts and symbolic objects. Discover this poetic, mysterious and beautiful Korean tale. (Han is a Korean cultural expression for emotional baggage accumulated through pain and life trauma).
Kokdu: The Soul Mate
Group: MAC Theatre | Korean Season presented by AtoBiz Ltd | Website | Facebook
Dance, Physical Theatre and Circus (physical theatre, dance) | Suitability: U
Assembly Hall (Venue 35) | 12:00 Aug 3-20, 22-28 1 hour | Book tickets
Come and experience Korean storytelling at its very best. Inspired by Korean traditional shamanistic rituals and beliefs, Kokdu is a visually stunning storytelling performance that encompasses traditional folk songs and movement with exotic Korean mask and shadow work along with beautiful costumes. Traditionally, Kokdu is a wooden figurine that accompanies and guides the dead to their afterlife providing friendship, companionship, spiritual guidance, protection and entertainment along the way. A positive reflection on the idea that death should be celebrated as the spirit finds peace in its final resting place.
The Merry Wives of Windsor
Group: Chang Moon
Dance, Physical Theatre and Circus (comedy, theatre) | Suitability: U
Greenside @ Infirmary Street (Venue 236) | 10:20 Aug 15-19 50 minutes | Book tickets
We are coming to the Festival Fringe with our unique Korean style. Based on The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare, this show includes Korean traditional music, costume and dancing. A word doesn’t matter here. Our body says everything. We bring you a story of human life which is full of humour. The story is like this: there is a foolish guy who is full of conceit. He tries to steal a married woman’s heart. But the merry wife rather screws him over. Meanwhile, her husband is looking at her with his dubious eyes…
Korean children’s classical music club Arisol present a variety of traditional performances, held along with the accompaniment of Samulnori and Korean classic music for free. Fantastic Korean musicians create a dizzying musical experience.
Ensemble SU: The Party
This quintet crosses international boundaries with its blend of Korean traditional instruments (strings and percussion) and western instruments (cello and piano). Since 2010, Ensemble SU has been touring internationally bringing their unique blend of contemporary and classical music to world stages. These musical storytellers take you on a journey through time and space to celebrate Korean culture during the Fringe. This music performance is part of the third Korean Season.
Ensemble Kla_Vier: Four Men, Four Pianos
The future of classical piano is here! With cutting-edge virtuosity and sleek elegance, this four piano, eight hands ensemble from South Korea blends Beethoven and Chopin seamlessly with the traditional and contemporary sounds of their nation. Classically trained since young ages in Europe, these four pianists seek their identities using what they are most familiar with – sharps and flats. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to witness the latest groundbreaking innovation from Korea, the land of superfast internet and fancy smartphones.
Yu Kyung-hwa and E-Do
E-Do is an ensemble of six incredibly talented musicians who combine traditional and contemporary rhythms with consummate ease. The group is led by Kyung-Hwa Yu, one of the most acclaimed artists in Korea. Kyung-Hwa Yu, who took her first traditional dance class at the age of four, is credited with reviving the chulhyungeum, an ancient instrument from Korea that was almost on the verge of extinction. E-Do’s profound understanding of traditional Korean music is complemented with a singularly contemporary re-oriental. The resulting music is precise and technically exact yet spontaneous and fresh.
Behind the Mirror
From the cave to the woods, created only by actors’ movement! Korean physical comedy with amazing vocal music takes us to the beautiful story of a girl lost in the woods with a precious mirror. Yeoni, who always wants to be someone else, meets Yaseng who grew up in the wild, and tells him she is a princess. While she tries to teach him a human way to live, she confronts spies running after the thief who stole the precious mirror. Will Yeoni be able to safely escape from the spies and tell Yaseng the truth? (LKL review here)
Monkey Dance: The Rockappella Musical!
Group: GGIRI & WINS
Musicals and Opera (musical theatre, physical theatre) | Suitability: U
C venues – C (Venue 34) | 16:15 Aug 2-13, 15-20, 22-28 1 hour | Book tickets
Music, a cappella, beatboxing and martial arts combine in a fusion of exhilarating musical physical enjoyment for all the family. Let us excite your eyes and ears with amazing movement and music. Comic, touching, exhilarating, and complete with dazzling dance and the cutest monkey ever seen. Stunning five-part a cappella harmonies will please your ears; the dynamic movement of the performers is a feast for the eyes; and the story of a monkey’s nature will touch your heart. An entirely new style of performance, direct from Korea!
Ongals: Babbling Comedy
Group: The Ongals
Comedy (family) | Suitability: U
Assembly Roxy (Venue 139) | 18:05 Aug 2-28 1 hour | Book tickets
With breathtaking magic, effortless circus and formidable beatboxing skills, Ongals will have you laughing your hat off. A high energy non-verbal comedy spectacular tickling the funny bone of every age, this wave of K Comedy is truly side-splitting fun for all generations and a show you won’t want to miss. If ever in doubt over what to see at the Festival – this is the show you can take your nan, your three-year-old or your work colleague to with guaranteed tears of laughter for all! Prepare to become hooked on K Comedy!
Group: James Cousins Company, presented by The Place | Website | Facebook
Dance, Physical Theatre and Circus (theatre, international) | Suitability: 12+
Summerhall (Venue 26) | 16:30 Aug 4-6, 8-13, 15-20, 22-26 1 hour 5 minutes | Book tickets
In this portrait of Shakespeare’s most beloved heroine – the curious and courageous Rosalind – rising star choreographer James Cousins asks whether women still need to emulate stereotypical masculinity to find equality in our modern world. Rosalind ventures through the modern metropolis – by day, ordered and traditional, by night, a neon wonderland. She is on a quest for enlightenment, driven by both love and oppression. ‘Hypnotic and beguiling’ (Times). ‘Vivid and alive’ (Guardian). Commissioned by the British Council as part of Shakespeare Lives. Co-commissioned by Arts Council Korea, The Place and Tramway, Glasgow.
Group: Park Gol Box | Website | Facebook
Dance, Physical Theatre and Circus (physical theatre, visual art) | Suitability: 12+
Greenside @ Nicolson Square (Venue 209) | 20:50 Aug 4-12, 14-19, 21-26 50 minutes | Book tickets
This is a collaboration of stunt and colour: the first of its kind in the world. See the colourful splashes from the spectacular stunt actions. The wild action meets beautiful art. Installation art, martial arts tricks and street dance add more fun in every single scene. See it before your own eyes: the most brutal and beautiful struggle to take over the one and only innocent heart in the world. Death City by Park Gol Box will draw a huge abstract painting on the stage. Don’t miss it. (LKL review here)
After 4 – Over the Moon
Group: Hoo Dance Company | Website | Facebook
Dance, Physical Theatre and Circus (dance, performance art) | Suitability: 12+
ZOO Southside (Venue 82) | 14:00 Aug 4-13, 15-20, 22-28 50 minutes | Book tickets
After 4 – Over the Moon, the meaning of the 4 is the world after death. Korean professional choreographer Sun-Hoo creates a special collaboration with one beautiful dancer and four different musicians (angel or envoy). She draws an eternal dreamy picture on stage. World premiere. Ensemble with live music and live drawing arts! The story of After 4 – Over the Moon: a dream of an 80-year-old woman. When an 80-year-old woman was dead, she crossed over four rivers and met four angels of death. Then she reincarnated in a flower.
Black and White Tea Room – Counsellor
Group: Theatre Huam
Theatre | Suitability: 16+
Paradise in Augustines (Venue 152) | 10:30 Aug 7-12 50 minutes | Book tickets
Our play Black and White Tea Room was first performed in 2014. It has been awarded Best Picture Award, Play Award and a Best Actor Award at the Two-Hander Festival. In 2015, the play was awarded Best Picture Award and Best Actor Award by the Seoul Theatrical Grand Award and was also awarded Best Actor Award and Special Award at Mil-Yang Summer Festival Awards and the Tokyo Tiny-Alice Festival. Performance in Korean with English subtitles. (LKL review here)
(automatically generated) Read LKL’s review of this event here.