One more day off to squeeze in some quick sightseeing and my intrepid tourist guide, Liz takes me off to the Imperial Palace of the Korean Imperial dynasty! Very different to the Japanese palaces and temples, colour being the obvious difference. Myriads of primary colours adorn the walls and ceilings of these palaces and the flags are all flown with great display. This palace was burnt down by the Japanese, twice in Korea’s history and it is only just now beginning to be restored to its former glory! There is a lot of anti Japanese sentiment here and I am beginning to understand why! They have been conquered and invaded by them numerous times throughout recent history and the civil war after WWII is still a bone of contention too. The only problem is that I think the entire company has gotten into the habit of speaking Japanese that we are constantly having to apologise for ourselves as we answer everything with a forceful HAI whenever we are asked something. But back to the palace...it is quite demure and simple when you look at all the quarters and worship halls, but the grounds are VAST. I just had the impression of being an invading force and having to deal with the numerous corridors, walls, gateways and alleys that we seemed to meander around. Constantly trying to find landmarks to regain our bearings we simply walked the huge grounds stumbling on lotus ponds and halls and tree lined avenues. There aren’t that many photos of this day because Liz and I found ourselves being constantly surrounded by school children. It seems that they have all been learning English and just couldn’t wait to try it out on us. AND THEY WERE SO LOUD! There was no escape as we were forced to sign books, bags, bits of paper and endlessly answer “hello, where are you from and welcome to KOREA!” It was all a bit much and we eventually had to try and avoid them by slipping down alleyways and behind ancient walls!
We left the palace and found this wonderful little street that had paved cobblestones and the most ecclectic selection of galleries and cafes that you could imagine. It was like something out of Paris or something, kind of like the Latin Quarter! I didn’t stay long as I had things that I wanted to do but Liz hung out there for a good 5 hrs! So it is surely something that I will look at doing on my next day off! Other than that it was straight back to work and to doing the 8 shows a week deal in this theatre.
The Korean audiences are a welcome change really. They react for one thing! They are nowhere near as reserved as the Japanese and are happy to laugh and clap along with the production, which at this point in the performance schedule is such a wonderful thing. The audience reaction really does lift you and make you realise that you are doing things that are registering and that your characters are reaching the people sitting in the seats! So the shows have been great thus far. Of course there are a few injuries and that means extra workload for some of us. It kind of becomes like a challenge in the end, to see how many shows on the trot you can do and keep doing with consistency and precision. The Big Swans are down to the last four so it is getting tiring. You get home and just flop! Wake up later in the morning and just do it all again. As we get towards the end this is the last push and whilst you love it, you are looking forward to that final week where you know you can give it large and not have to turn around and do another 3 weeks.