Writer/director Chris Yejin, using traditional music and storytelling devices, has presented the Fringe with an entertaining and intelligent little history lesson of King Sejong (1397 – 1450) who ruled Korea for 42 years.
Like the 2005 Korean film King and the Clown and like King Lear, in this work wisdom is gained by listening to the “Fool.”
King Sejong (Junesoo Ham) is a ruler concerned with improving his land and people thru knowledge. But the illiteracy of his people frustrates all his efforts, which the officials of his court (Victor Chi and Amy Shu) assure him this is only proof that the people are lazy and stupid. However a street entertainer and storyteller Zoë Kim, who also serves as the work’s framing device, tells the King the truth; that the language system, imported from China with the complexity of its thousands of characters, is impossible for the people to learn when all their waking hours are given over to labor just to survive.
“You should be able to write the sound of the wind,” Sejong states and to that begins work on his greatest contribution to Korean history, the “hangul; a phonetic alphabet of twenty-eight letters which were drawn as diagrams of the position of the mouth, teeth and tongue required to make the sounds of each syllabic blocks. The intention was to make the alphabet easy enough to master with only hours of study and thus put learning within the grasp of all the classes of Korean society.
Yejin’s compact little piece is full of nuggets drawn from her cultural history
(“Every official should fear the judgment of heaven and his people.”),
but also serves as a stern reminder to our present culture on the necessity of education for any society as the tale’s storyteller looks out at a supposed knowledgeable and literate audience to end the presentation with,
“You’re all kings, aren’t you?”
Were that but the case.
To Yejin and her cast, for both entertaining and warning us a PLATINUM MEDAL.
♦ ♦ ♦
The King’s Language
A Hollywood Fringe Festival Encore Award Winner!
June 20, 2017 @ 7:30 pm
July 2, 2017 @ 5:30 pm
Sacred Fools — Second Stage
6320 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90038
For Tickets and Additional Information:
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