Whenever I think of the theater, I think of innocent passion. For me, this feeling grew while living in England. Growing up, I was mercilessly exposed to the worlds of football and theater. Both are now a close part of my life, but theater has by far left a deeper impression. What my humble experiences taught me about theater was sincere and beautiful.
It began with the Drama classes in middle school. There was nothing grand about them. The students were the producers, actors and audience. We performed in our school uniforms, using tables and chairs as props. There was no music, only played in the minds of the more gifted few, and the lights were simply turned on or off. Each "production" was completed in one or two sittings. The class was based entirely on the students' abilities to create stimulating ideas and performances in the given time. Here lay the gist, and here lay the magic.
With mounting interest in drama, I participated in the school productions. These were taken seriously as our school was very active in all the arts. I remember the months of after-school rehearsals, with passionate lectures from the teachers and sporadic outbursts from tired students, which all resulted in outstanding plays. What moved me the most was the capacity of talent the young amateurs possessed in their directing and acting (students did everything other than being the teacher). Yet this was hardly surprising considering I was in the land that produced everything from Hamlet to the Hobbits.
What impacted me as much as my personal participation was watching various performances. It wasn't only the few plays I saw at the West End. The small performances in the county hall and numerous others I encountered through the tv screen were influential enough. The annual Royal Gala, a variety of performing arts held for the royal family, always left me a little speechless. Whoever was performing in whatever stage, they all emitted a vibe of true appreciation for what they did.
One of the best "school trips" I went on was to the West End with that year's school play team. We watched two musicals, 'Sunset Boulevard' by Andrew Lloyd Webber and 'A little Night Music'by Stephen Sondheim. The entire experience of watching brilliant performances and simply being there with those dramatic Brits is one I reminisce with a touch of nostalgic romance.
It's been seven years since I've left England and I have continued to participate in various performances as part of my hobby. Still, I haven't been able to experience another environment that provides all the aspects of the theatrical world as richly as England did.
-by Lee Eun-jin
(International Studies, 4)