With many students stressed out due to the prospect of getting a job while maintaining a good GPA and well-rounded relationships, “healing” musicals have been trending in Daehakro, a place where young adults enjoy diverse culture and arts. “Marigold” and “Ucupracacia” are one of many healing musicals that aim to provide spectators a chance to reflect on life and remind them of important values they were missing out on. The two highly praised musicals are produced by the theater company “Beyou.”
Beyou, a Christian theater company that started stage productions in 2012, began the journey hoping to interact with the world through different genres of musicals and plays. As their ultimate objective is to spread love, they not only perform in formal theaters, but also visit schools and isolated areas to make sure that as many people as possible are provided with heartwarming experiences. In the last two years, Beyou was nominated for three grand prizes: twice in The Best Brand of Empathy in Korea Award and in the 2017 Global Management Brand.
One of the key characteristics of the company is that their works cover contemporary social issues, contemplating on how to effectively deliver their messages through the performances. For Marigold and Ucupracacia, Beyou focused on mental health issues seeing that South Korea has the highest suicide rate among OECD countries since 2003.
“Actually, suicide isn’t an easy topic to discuss,” said Shin Kyung-hye, the representative of Beyou. “We were quite worried in the first place that this heavy topic will make the audience gloomier. However, realizing that suicide is not merely a story that people encounter through the news, but a possible event that can happen to close ones, we started the two musicals to help people living in a hectic society rediscover the meaning of life and acknowledge the importance of it.”
The musical Marigold tells the story of five strangers who have gathered in a confined place to commit a joint suicide. One by one, the strangers share their reasons for such a decision. The fact that these five strangers, which include a new student getting bullied by her classmates, a father living apart from his family suffering from loneliness, and a woman who is a victim of lookism, are relatable, establishes a certain bond between each of the character and the spectator. The title “Marigold” is a name of a flower that means “happiness that is bound to come,” implying that although people face challenges in life, there is always going to be happiness and hope at the end.
Ucupracacia’s title also implies heartwarming messages, coming from an imaginary flower name that means “give me love.” The flower is said to be extremely sensitive to humans’ touch, but when given continuous care and love, the flower becomes lively again. The plot is based on the true story of Helen Keller’s teacher Anne Sullivan’s hardships, delivering the message that giving constant affection helps overcome one’s despair.
Shin shared that when delivering such heartwarming messages, one of the key factors is the actors. In order to effectively deliver such messages, establishing a family-like atmosphere and constantly exchanging love with each other are crucial.
“It’s because it will all be just fake if an actor, who is supposed to show love to the audience, doesn’t know what love means in real life,” Shin said. “So I always emphasize to the actors to communicate with love and care on a daily basis.”
Beyou hopes to continue performing musicals until every single person living in Korea sees them.
“Frankly, it is quite difficult to be able to maintain shows at Daehakro as every month is in the red,” Shin said. “However, as what we are doing helps many people realize their values in life and find happiness, we will keep finding ways to continue our purpose.”