Puppets, shadows, masks, traditional rituals and instrumentation Kkok-Du is a story presented by Creative Group Noni in a contemporary style with wit, humour and panache.

Kkok-Du, by Creative Group Noni, is the first in its series of reviewing traditional performance with a particular focus on recreating the motif of Korea’s traditional 'Kkok-du or puppet & marionette play. The play, to quote the Director, aims ‘to ravish the five senses’! It is a delightful ornametapoeic, kinaesthetic collage of lively scenes that skillfully juxtapose the festive gut, a traditional shaman ritual for the dead even while celebrating the living. With puppets, masks and shadows, traditional Korean instrumentation, music and movement, the play combines the traditional puppet performance of Kkodu Gaksi Norum with a contemporary re-working of traditional techniques. The Kkodu Gaksi Norum, the original text on which this play is based, is the only remaining document relating to traditional Korean puppet theatre. During the Yi dynasty, some hundred years ago, the piece was played by vagrants in villages allover Korea. The original text, with ample use of crude humour, served as a form of popular and often, powerful criticism of corrupt government officials, nobles and Buddhist monks. It was an anarchic space that allowed for a cultural breach with the musician, in particular playing the role similar to that of the Greek Chorus, mediating and interpreting the action of the play for the audience. Creative Group Noni’s version gently modernises the original text taking it well beyond the scope of pure puppet theatre. During the course of the play, puppets suddenly leave the stage only to reappear in full-size, impersonated by the puppet-players themselves in front of the audience. While shadow puppetry is used to evocatively move the narrative forward, a painting emerges quickly on cloth. The free combination of different artistic elements along with images, percussion and voices, take the audience on a fascinating journey to places they have not, or even, cannot visit. There is both recognition and confusion- an acknowledgement of the strange and foreign and of the known and native; of traditional practice and its contemporary meaning; of particular stories and universal truths.

Into a quiet, white, blank space, walks in a gypsy shaman. They present a gut play for the soul of an old man. As the shaman joyfully performs the gut in a "puppet play" method, the space becomes a stage. Kkodu brings to life an old man, Park Chumji, his wife, Kkokdu Gagsi, his mistress Tolmori and many others. Kkodu, which is also the name of a traditional Korean puppet, is led by one musician and two puppeteers who characterize three clowns. They are vagrant shaman acrobats with one musician and two puppeteers. The three clowns invoke the spirit of the dead and request them to enter the puppets. And so begins an adventurous journey with the clowns accompanying the puppets who eventually fulfill the dreams and aspirations of the spirits, something they were unable to do when alive. The play consists of a series of loosely connected episodes and includes traditional Korean songs and dances and a constant dialogue between the main character Park and the musician. Park talks about his life; meets his wife after a long break; is outraged seeing his daughter dancing with young monks; almost gets killed by the monster Ishimi and is finally taken to his grave.

About Creative Group Noni

Creative Group Noni was formed in 2006 by students who graduated from the Korea National University of Arts after majoring in Performing Arts and Stage Design. All the artists have a profound understanding of traditional Korean culture, especially traditional dance, music and visual arts. The group aims to broaden their artistic capabilities by fusing traditional performance methods with modern visual languages; they continuously question how traditional techniques can continue to have relevance for contemporary audiences and explore how their creative processes can be eco-friendly to mirror the strong bonds between Man and Nature. Their repertoire includes Kkok-Du; Ignis Fatuus RIN and Paramnori.

Korea Foundation

The Korea Foundation, established in 1991 as an affiliate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, aims to promote awareness and understanding of Korea throughout the world. It aims to enhance international goodwill and friendship through the implementation of various international exchange programmes. The major Foundation activities include support for Korean Studies programmes overseas; fellowships and grants to encourage and assist foreign students and scholars interested in Korea; intellectual exchanges and forums to promote bilateral ties with other nations as well as people-to-people interactions to boost mutual understanding between Korea and other countries;cultural exchanges to introduce the unique characteristics of Korean culture to the world.

KAMS Korea Arts Managements Service

KAMS (Korea Arts Management Service) was established in January 2006 as a non-profit, public foundation for the development of Korean performing arts. With support from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, KAMS offers multi-faceted assistance that aims to bolster the sustainability of arts groups and organizations, while strengthening their competitive advantages by developing diverse and effective support systems for more efficient arts management. KAMS enables performing arts companies in Korea to broaden their horizons and presence by evaluating their management strategy, offering consulting services, and expanding their market capability through innovative distribution networks in domestic and overseas markets.

PAMS Performing Arts Market in Seoul

PAMS (Performing Arts Market in Seoul) is an annual international performing arts market, where members of the industry, including artists, arts groups, managers, theater programmers, festival artistic directors and performance planners, can gather together in one place, share artistic visions and exchange information on performance art trends. PAMS was established in 2005 with the support of the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to promote the development of international distribution channels for Korean performing arts.

About The Hindu Metroplus Theatre Festival

Since its inception in Chennai in 2005, The Hindu MetroPlus Theatre Fest has become a much awaited annual event. The seventh edition of the Fest , in August 2011 will feature 20 performances in five cities – in Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Coimbatore and, for the very first time, Kochi. The line up this year includes play from Korea, the U.S.A and Sri Lanka and from Chennai and Mumbai, India. Over the years, The Hindu’s engagement with theatre has grown considerably. This is reflected in the Fest travelling to more and more cities. And as before, this year’s Fest has allied activites such as workshops and symposiums on theatre to enrich the experience.

7 August 2011, Chowdiah Memorial Hall, Bengaluru
12 August 2011, Sir Mutha Venkatasubba Rao Concert Hall, Chennai

For further information contact InKo Centre T: 044 2436 1224; E: enquiries@inkocentre.org

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