Faculty members invited to direct theatre production in South Korea

September 6, 2012 | Arts, UToday
By Angela Riddel


Cornel Gabara, associate professor of theatre, and Irene Alby, theatre lecturer, are in Seoul, South Korea, where they are co-directing a production of William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

The two were invited by Kookmin University to direct the play, featuring master’s thesis students. The production will open Friday, Sept. 7.

The play is familiar territory for Gabara, who directed the UT production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” that was staged in Toledo’s historic Valentine Theatre last November. However, he said the Korean production won’t look the same as the UT production.

“In Korea, you have a different language and a different culture, so it will also have a different directorial approach. It will have more video elements and more choreography,” Gabara said.

Alby will direct the video and choreography, and Gabara will handle the text analysis, although they will collaborate and share ideas across their roles. The husband-and-wife team are co-directing the production.


Alby said that while she will bring her own direction and design concepts, they are not set in stone.

“I will be relying on [student cast and crew members] and their familiarity with the culture to guide me. I have already sent my ideas to them for their consideration, and I’m anxious to see what their thoughts are,” she said.

Even though Gabara does not speak Korean, he has much experience with translating Shakespeare into foreign languages. Aided by an interpreter, he has worked through the text to provide a translation that is the most meaningful to his Korean audience and best communicates Shakespeare’s work. The interpreter also will help Alby and Gabara as they direct the actors.

Gabara added that language isn’t necessarily the biggest challenge.

“The real challenge is how do we express the universality of Shakespeare with Korean cultural elements. It’s still the same play. The comedy and the concepts of opposing forces — male and female, night and day, dark and light, powerful and powerless — they are still there. But the form they take will be different. It will reflect Korean culture.”

Those interested can learn more about the progress of the play on the UT Department of Theatre and Film blog and Facebook fan page.

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