Sexuality has been a social taboo for as long as "civilization" prevailed. However, with the revelation of its predominance in human life, society has slowly allowed sexuality to blossom out into the open.
The trend is making inroads into our society as well, thanks to Lee Hae-jae, Park Jang-ryul, Song Hyung-jong, Kim Nak-hyung, Yang Jung-woong, and Oh You-kyung; play directors who have raised the awareness of sexuality to an unprecedented level through the six plays they are showcasing at the Sexuality Festival through November 24 at the Hwehwadong Theater.
Known collectively as Hwehwadong 1 Bungi, the directors depict sexuality in their unique ways in the following plays: The Sexual Life of Robinson Crusoe, May Eve Love Adam, Stike Out Not Out, The Active Swelling, Misil, Oh! Insolent Alice. Of these, The Active Swelling, directed by Kim Nak-hyung, is perhaps the defining piece of the festival.
Performed from October 17 to October 27, the play describes problems stemming from sexuality within a normal household. The play begins with the entire cast on stage, and its plot is narrated from the perspective of the family"s second son.
The protagonist suffers from hallucinations of his dead twin sister who also happened to have been his first love. He engages in sexual activities without an actual partner and imagines that his twin sister is still alive. The mother is torn between being a good housewife who looks after her family and a woman seeking true love. That love happens to be a friend of her husband"s. The first son blames his mother for the father"s death and watches over her every move. Although she yearns to connect with outsiders after her husband"s death, her son pressures her to stay home, as seen fit for widowed women.
The play is unique in that it examines various sexual contexts that could happen in an average household. Sexual liberties undertaken by teenagers and sexual restraints brought on by marriage are reflected on stage.
At the heart of the play is perhaps the question of whether monogamy is still appropriate for today"s societies. Director Kim Nak-hyung notes that the human instinct to respond to sexual desires and to restrict this instinct by marriage has always been an unsettling issue in societies. Humans responding to their sexual desires find through this play a means of regaining "themselves" through an "active swelling" of their identities.
Another featured play, The Sexual Life of Robinson Crusoe shows how a man copes with his sexual desires living on an isolated island for 28 years.
In May Eve Love Adam, Eve is a woman who seeks identity through many makeovers and encounters various male-mates, the first one being Dad.
Strike Out Not Out draws out homosexuals and their conflicts living in the superficially liberal society accepting different forms of love.
The Sexuality Festival, through its blunt expressions of sexuality, opens the door to deeper considerations of sex in today"s society. It questions the underlying taboos associated with sexuality and questions the practices that bind individuals in the name of morals and ethics.