Chapter 135

Miso’s next move was obviously to explain the situation to the club members. Maru made sure to fake a reaction as he listened. If he was listening too calmly, Dojin would definitely pick up on it.

“Things are moving much faster than I expected. They might already have things set in stone at this point.”

Miso looked around the auditorium slowly. The second years’ expressions turned dark. They spent a pretty long time at the auditorium at this point. Having this place be taken away from them must feel pretty bad.

“Is there a way to stop this? We can’t get kicked out of here,” Yoonjung said, clasping her hands together.

The girl liked being in the acting club more than the acting itself. To her, this place was like a shelter to her. Losing one’s shelter is a catastrophic event. She would, of course, become inactive by the time she enters her third year, but that didn’t mean her time spent here would become any less important.

“We’ll have to try our best.”

“But besides that?”

“We’ll have to try harder. As someone told me, this is a problem for adults concerning money. Students have no place in this issue. The best thing you guys can do is to get attention from your entire region, but the competition isn’t really that big of an issue anymore. It’s not like acting gives you any merit, either. After all, there’s so many other things to watch nowadays.”

Hearing that from a real actor made Maru’s heart ache a little bit. Miso smiled bitterly before clapping her hands loudly.

“Alright, back to practice. We need to work harder than ever. Got it?”

“...Yes.”

“I can’t hear you. Louder.”

“Yes!”

“Good. It looks like you guys are all warmed up already, so let’s begin. We’re going to check up on the stage and our costumes today as well. We’ll fix up what we can and buy what we can’t. There’s only a few days left. Focus.”

* * *

The start of the play breezed through in the blink of an eye. Before they knew it, Geunseok was already on his way home after Daemyung’s odd monologue.

“Hey, young man!”

“Yes?”

“You must be having a hard time adjusting because of the odd residents of this town, am I right?”

“Not at all. I’m actually quite happy. Everyone has such great quirks here. The town I was in before had very boring people. They even treated me like a weirdo for passing around some rice cake after I moved in!” “It’s because we’re living in pretty dark times right now. Just turn on the TV, and all you get is news about crimes… it’s scary. Here, here. Come sit for a second.”

Maru nodded as he saw Soyeon’s acting. When they first started practice, he got the feeling that the girl was only imitating an old woman. Her acting now made her seem like one. If she put on a costume and some makeup right there… she’d totally be an old lady.

Geunseok was still being as good as ever, his role as the main character was to bring out the personalities of the other characters even more. The effectiveness of the play would vary depending on how well he could motivate the other characters. Then again, that was why he was the main character.

People often say that you could only see as much as you knew. To Maru, the things that the other actors showed and told him became experience, and he felt like he could see just that much more as a result. Thanks to it, he finally realized what all the adults meant when they said Geunseok was good at acting. It wasn’t just because the boy had a good voice and enunciation. That was just the basics. Not only did Geunseok have the basics pretty much set in stone, the boy was also natural.

Natural.

Maru realized just how difficult it was to act natural on stage through experience. Acting naturally took a ton of practice and hard work. In the end, a person could only be natural on stage only if they were experienced. They could only act naturally if they knew roughly every possible thing that could happen to them and knew how to react to those situations. If he went back for a second and thought back to the times when Miso told him he had talent, he realized one thing.

‘I’m incredibly lucky.’

He was already natural on stage because he already had all the life experience he needed. He didn’t know if it was god’s gift to him or just something he developed in his 45 years of living, but he never became nervous on top of the stage. In fact, he didn’t feel anything. It just felt like he was standing in a place that people liked to look at often. Now that he thought about it, he realized this was a blessing. He held an advantage compared to his peers. That is, he was starting out from a location that others took years of practice to get to; even the fact that he liked to read literature became a strong point for him.

Maru didn’t know how much Geunseok worked to get to where he was, but it could be no small amount of time and effort. It was obvious. After all, the boy was good at studying and acting. People might say acting was simply a result of talent, but Maru could say for sure now. Acting wasn’t just talent, it also took an incredible amount of hard work, just like studying.

“Stop there. We’ll rest for a bit before continuing again.”

“Okay.”

The club members all collapsed, they must’ve been pouring a lot of energy into this. They didn’t even waste the energy to talk. Instead, what little energy they had left was focused on thinking about their respective characters. A heavy air emanated across the auditorium. Not the sort of air that made people nervous, but the type that made one want to focus on work.

Maru was also thinking about his character, trying to think about how to make the teenager more realistic. Right then, he started feeling vibrations coming from his pocket. He took it out. It was Ganghwan.

- Going well?

“I don’t know, but I’m trying hard.”

- That’s fine and all, but all that matters in the end are results.

“That’s true. What’s up with the call, by the way?”

- The prelims are getting close, so I decided to cancel practice today. I don’t want to bother you guys when you’re all so busy.

“So you called me because you were bored?”

- Kind of, yeah. All my friends are busy and I’m the only one without work.

“If you’re that bored, why don’t you come here?”

- Eh?

“Instructor Miso’s here too, so why don’t you come to help?”

- No, just because I’m bored doesn’t mean I’m going to work…

“Come on, this is your good student asking you for a favor here.”

- I don’t recall you ever doing “good” things for me though…

“Hold on.”

Maru walked towards Miso, who was sitting down with her eyes closed. He initially thought she was just closing her eyes, but soon realized she was actually fast asleep. What a woman. To think she’d be able to sleep even when students were muttering their lines all around her… He also felt a bit sorry for her. She was clearly working hard enough to need little naps in the middle of work.

“Instructor.”

Maru called at her silently. He remembered getting beat up in the military when he tapped his senior awake and he didn’t want to go through that experience again. Miso opened her eyes after a few moments. She turned to look at him briefly before flinching backwards.

“Ugh, you surprised me.”

“Tired?”

“Yawn, yeah. I shouldn’t sleep, but I just can’t help it.”

“Do you need any reinforcement?”

“Reinforcement?”

Maru handed her the phone, making her put on a confused expression.

“It’s Ganghwan.”

“Him? Why?”

“He said he was bored.”

“Reaaaally?”

Her eyes shone brightly as she immediately put the phone against her ear.

“Yang Ganghwan! Get the hell over here if you’re free. This is Woosung High. Just search your navigator if you don’t know where it is. What? Seems like too much work? You said you were bored yourself. Big sis will play with you, so get the hell over here. Ah, get some food on the way here. You don’t plan on coming here with nothing, are you?”

Miso hung up before the man even had the chance to respond. There was a hint of something sinister behind her grin.

“Ganghwan’s going to be a great reinforcement for sure. I’ll make him do all sorts of stuff once he’s here.”

“Don’t work him too hard, though.”

“He said himself he’s free as balls. All that tells me is that I can use him as much as I want. He must’ve been feeling really bored with him not getting casted for any roles.”

Maru shrugged as he took his phone back. Ganghwan was a great teacher, a better actor than Miso as well. If Miso specialized in the overall flow of a play, Ganghwan specialized in bringing out the individual skills of the actors.

“Let’s rest a little more. We can start when our guest comes. We might be going back late today as well, so tell your parents.”

The club members quickly took out their phones. Some of them were making phone calls as well. After about ten minutes, the door opened with Ganghwan on the other side. The man was holding bags of snacks from the convenience store.

“You guys are all working hard, aren’t you?”

The man handed the club members a piece of bread from the bag. He said he didn’t want to work, but he came very well prepared. Miso pulled back the grinning man towards her as the club looked at him oddly.

“You remember him from last time, don’t you?”

“Yes.”

“He’s a jobless brat right now, so I called him. He’ll teach you acting. It’ll only be for a few hours, but there’s value in learning from him.”

“Hey, who said I’m a jo...”

Miso put a hand over Ganghwan’s mouth, making the man step back with a frown.

“Show him how much you practiced. Alright, let’s do a quick run.”

The club members stacked their breads into one place before walking back to the stage. They must’ve gotten excited about getting judged by someone other than Miso, given their excited looks.

“Alright, begin when you’re ready. Ganghwan, come over here.”

Ganghwan sat right next to Miso. Hearing an advice from this man, who was set to become a massive star in the future is most definitely an honor for everyone here.

“Phew.”

Someone on the stage sighed. That was the beginning of their run.

* * *

“Not bad!”

That was the first thing Ganghwan said after the run. The club members brightened. To them, Ganghwan was equivalent to Miso in status. Being accepted by someone like that was bound to feel good.

“The play is well balanced. You guys are definitely a lot better than last time. I’m actually very impressed by how well you guys are stopping yourselves from looking at the audience. Some actors like to stare intently at the audience to try to communicate with them, but all that ends up doing is breaking the promise between the stage and the audience.”

“Promise?” Daemyung blurted.

The boy immediately looked down in embarrassment.

“Yeah, promise. In the end, plays are nothing but a figment of your imagination. The audience sees it as reality, if only for the moment. If the main character can’t control himself and keeps staring at the audience, the audience would no longer be watching a play. They’d only be watching some actor that stares back a lot. This is unacceptable behavior.”

Ganghwan was being absolutely certain with his words.

“In that sense, you guys did a great job with your eyes. Some kids in high school clubs like to look at odd places during the play out of nervousness, but I didn’t see that here.”

“So we did well?”

Ganghwan nodded without missing a beat at Yoonjung’s question.

“But, I don’t like how you guys are moving so stiffly.”

Ganghwan turned to look at Miso, who gave him a curt nod.

“Did you guys go see the stage yet?”

“Yes.”

“Do you remember how far the audience was from the stage?”

“Around seven meters, if you think of how high up the stage was.”

“Maru, go stand about seven meters from over there.”

Maru walked away from the rest of the club.

“Say your lines for me.”

“Which one?”

“Whichever one that has movement.”

Maru nodded as he thought of a line. As the teenager, he was often in odd poses. This time, he decided to go with the intermission between act 7 and 8. The scene where he would jump into the stage before cracking a joke like a comedian.

“Isn’t it odd, everyone? People this odd, living in such a small town? What a ridic...”

“Stop there.”

Ganghwan waved Maru back before continuing.

“His movements seemed small, right?”

“...Yes.”

The club members answered nervously. Maru was shocked. He thought he was pretty expressive, but his movements were small?

“Miso probably told you herself that you’d only look annoying if you didn’t make large gestures.”

Indeed, Miso told them exactly that. That was why Maru made large movements, so why…

“You were fine for the most part, but your hands are the real problem here. You guys look way too conservative with your hand movements.”

Ganghwan walked back to where Maru was before while holding a script of the play in hand.

“Here, let me show you.”

He flipped through the script for a bit before finding a line he liked. He moved to the left before starting his act, he was acting out the part that Maru just acted out himself. The man jumped in, with his expression looking like a little clown.

“Isn’t it odd, everyone? People this odd, living in such a small town?”

Ganghwan calmly took in a small breath.

“Let me show you a different act this time. The scene that the girl just played, the one with the old lady.”

Then, he went back to acting.

Previous Chapter Next Chapter