Friday, April 5, 2019

Play a Day: Once Upon a (Korean) Time

Daniel K. Isaac
For Friday I read One Upon a (Korean) Time by Daniel K. Isaac and available from New Play Exchange.

Isaac stirringly traces a century of Korean history with characters who recount ancient folks tales to console, explain, or simply draw attention away from the grief and hardship which has affected the Korean peninsula and its people. His storytelling is magical, candid, and very funny.

Adapting international folk tales for the stage, I have discovered that the same plots and characters have presented themselves across the years and across the globe. One story of a virtuous girl who receives a calabash which is (surprisingly) full of good things, prompts her sister to demand a calabash which is (not surprisingly) full of bad things is pretty much the same basic outline as Red Onion, White Garlic.

But Isaac stops to ask, what is the lesson? What are we teaching our children? Be passive and good things will come to you? Strive for achievement and you deserve punishment? Never do the same thing twice?

There’s also the lesson that good only defeats evil at a price, and that is hard to argue with.

Who should I read tomorrow?

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