He was… different. There was nothing else they could say about it. The man spoke the same lines from the same characters, but he looked so very different compared to everyone else. The club members all looked at Ganghwan dumbly. The man was showing them the difference between a pro and an amateur.
“Did I overdo it?”
Ganghwan smiled after doing a short performance of all twelve characters. The man’s arrogant comment was even sounding a bit like words from a wiseman after such a shocking performance. Now that Maru thought about it, he’d never actually seen Ganghwan act. Ganghwan was acting in an adult play at the time since Maru joined him. They practiced together a lot, but they’ve never worked together on the same stage. Maru had to wonder what it would feel like to exchange lines with someone that skilled. He couldn’t even imagine it right now.
“Starting off from the basics, we need to focus on accents. I’m not telling you to follow me. You need to go develop one yourself. There are tricks, though.”
The club members flocked around Ganghwan at a flick of his hands. Miso was watching him intently from afar, her eyes filled with respect. Not respect as a friend, but as an actor.
“Acting out a character much older than you is actually very difficult. If you want to act out a character seventy years older than you, you need just that much experience to do well. That’s not easy. For us pros, we go to the scenes itself in order to get experience, but that’s not an option for you guys. So the only thing you guys can do is take tips and tricks and do your best with those.”
“What would those tips be?”
Soyeon and Taejoon widened their eyes in surprise. Ganghwan told the two of them to just focus more on their bodies than their lines.
“If you try to make yourself sound old, all you’d really be doing is ruining your projection. Not only that, you might end up damaging your throat as well. Most people mistakenly think that old people have a very lethargic, airy voice. In this industry, it’s almost like a promise between the actor and the audience as well. The actor’s basically telling the audience that he’s acting an old character, so the audience needs to understand that as a fact.”
Ganghwan looked over the club members.
“Does any one of you live with your grandparents?”
No one raised their hands.
“Well, it’s pretty hard to see people living with their extended families nowadays, so I guess it’s understandable. It must be hard for you to see what old people are actually like. That’s why you act out your roles based on the stereotypes of old people you see in society.”
Maru thought for a second. When he entered his forties, the only times he went to see his parents were during holidays. His parents were over their seventies by that point. They weren’t incredibly old, but they were getting there for sure.
“This is a strange case, but this is easier for you if you think of yourselves as voice actors. Your voices can’t change by an incredible amount especially after you pass puberty. There are even old men whose voices don’t change at all from their younger years. What should you do, then? In the end, it all just comes down to the details.”
Ganghwan brought over a chair.
“The old lady in front of the shop is always described to be sitting outside her store. She often says her lines from her chair, right?”
“Yes. She stands up too, but she often says her lines from the chair.”
“The age range of the character is?”
“Not that bad, since she can still come outside. She’s not that lethargic either since she can hold her own in an argument still.”
“Good. If you’re aware of all the details, then the rest of it should be pretty easy. Just convince yourself that you’re actually old. When you get back home, try to find videos on actual old people talking.”
“One of the first things that happens as you age is that your skin starts stretching. Studying how that would affect the rest of your body would be most useful here. But since this is a bit rushed, just follow me first.”
Ganghwan put on a slight frown as he stretched his jaws and cheeks downwards, making him look a little bit depressed. Soyeon followed suit, albeit with a little bit of confusion.
“If you age like this, the overall muscles in your face lose energy like this. Open your mouth here. You’ll notice you can’t open it as much.”
“Yes, you’re right.”
“The reason why old people have bad enunciations is because their muscles don’t work so well anymore. But it’d be horrible if an actor had bad enunciation. You’ll have to put in the practice to make yourself maintain that ‘old person vibe’ while managing to keep clear enunciation. But you definitely don’t have the time for that right now, so save it for the next nationals.”
“As for your gestures...”
Ganghwan was very different here from his usual self in his amateur classes. Back there, he only showed the actors the directions they could take for improvement. Now, he was actively pointing out places where each student could improve. If he focused on the theory for the amateur acting class, over here he focused a lot on the practical information.
Ganghwan’s next target was Geunseok.
“I’m Hong Geunseok.”
“Ah right, Geunsoo’s brother. I don’t have much to tell you. Good job. I think you have a very decent grasp of what your character is like.”
“As expected of Geunsoo’s brother. Good job, good job.”
Ganghwan gave the boy a thumbs up. Geunseok put on a very comforted smile.
Ganghwan moved onto the next person.
* * *
Ganghwan and Miso stepped outside the auditorium. By the time they finished another run, it was already 9pm.
“You planning on keeping them around for a bit longer?”
“I have to. The prelims are in two days.”
“Don’t pressure them too much, they’re just kids. You get way too rough sometimes, you have to be softer with them.”
“If I was soft too, wouldn’t I be way too perfect?”
Ganghwan firmly shook his head. This woman didn’t have any humility. Then again, that was the source of her charm.
“How’s your work going on that side?”
“My kids are elites, so they’re all doing very well.”
The two of them walked into a restaurant nearby. They ordered some food before sitting down. The lady at the store told them it’d take around 15 minutes.
“Are you paying all of them for their food?”
“What, would I be making them pay then?”
“Dang, Miso. You must be earning a lot of money.”
“Hell yeah I do.”
“Why don’t you invest a bit of money into my play, then? I promise we’ll make good returns.”
“Go find someone else. I’m too young to be investing any money right now. Plus, I don’t have that much money to begin with. Why don’t you just go to senior Junmin?”
“I’d rather die before asking him. I don’t want to become even more indebted to him when I’m already knee deep inside. I don’t want money ruining our relationship.”
“...Oh? So you’re fine if our relationship gets ruined?”
“You just realized? You, me, and Geunsoo. We’re terrible, terrible friends.”
“You’re not wrong. Ugh.”
Ganghwan watched Miso as she flopped down on a table in front of her. It’s been a while since he last saw her this tired.
“It’s just the acting club. Everything else is fine. Hah...”
She sighed loudly enough to make her hair start moving on her desk. Looking at that, Ganghwan started twisting her hair with a grin.
“You surprised me.”
Miso stood back up with a massive frown.
“This is why you don’t have a girlfriend.”
“Hey, don’t hit me where it hurts like that. It’s not like you have a boyfriend either.”
“Me? I do.”
“...Hah! That’s the funniest joke I heard all year. You? A guy? Are you sure he’s not involved in some pyramid scheme?”
“You want to get beat up?”
Ganghwan stepped away from her into the kitchen for a bit. In the meantime, the lady from the store came back with bags of kimbap and stir fried pork.
“Do you need chopsticks?”
“Yes, can we have fourteen?”
The two of them stepped outside, each one holding a bag of food in their hands.
“Are you actually dating someone, though?”
“Who? Someone I know? Which actor is it?”
“...No, he isn’t related to this industry at all. Well, wait, I guess he kind of is.”
“Who is it?”
“Ugh, why do you want to know so badly?”
“Why? I’m curious! I want to know who would date someone with a terrible personality like you.”
“Do you actually have a death wish?”
Ganghwan didn’t stop teasing her, despite all the threats. Miso said some terrifying things, but Ganghwan could tell she was actually embarrassed. He’s never seen that side of her before, he couldn’t stop teasing her here.
“...He’s a school teacher.”
“Really? I suppose it is the mission of teachers to rescue lost little lambs. Where does he work?”
“Really? This one? Wait, so you met him through the club? So it’s been like a year, huh?”
Finding love from your high school… Love really was a strange thing.
“It’s been more than ten years.”
“I had a crush on him for a full decade. I’ve only managed to get somewhere with it recently.”
Miso’s face was as red as a beet. Ten years, though? What was up with that?
“He’s the person who made the acting club with me while I was still here. He was really cute back then. Not that he isn’t cute now.”
“So you’re dating a teacher you had a crush on while you were in high school?”
“Hahaha, don’t joke with me. Are you the heroine of some romance novel? You should at least make your stories believable.”
“Do I look like I’m lying?”
Miso frowned annoyedly. Ganghwan’s face stiffened. A teacher who dates his student?
“...Ha. Haha. Life is meaningless. Ugh.”
Ganghwan sighed deeply in defeat.
* * *
“Thank you for the hard work,” Maru said.
“Hard work? Nah. It was fun. It was like I was back in high school again. The kids in Myungdong all know what they’re doing, so it’s no fun teaching them.”
“Does that include me?”
“Nah, of course not.”
Ganghwan got in his car with a grin. Maru was thankful that the man managed to take out his time for something like this. He’s learned a lot from just this one day.
“Miso taught you well.”
“She’s passionate, if nothing else.”
“Individually, you all have something to be desired, but you guys have a really nice vibe going when you’re all together. You might actually manage to win something. But! Your role is critical in making that happen.”
“Please don’t pressure me like that. I’m just an extra.”
“A very important extra. Oh, also, try to get on good terms with Geunseok.”
“Yeah. The kid knows what he’s doing. He definitely studied a lot in his own time as well. He’ll make a great partner.”
He probably couldn’t get close to Geunseok anymore, though. Maru swallowed his thoughts as he smiled. Ganghwan told Maru to do well in the prelims.
“You aren’t coming to see us?”
“I can’t blatantly favor you when there’s so many other kids I’m teaching involved.”
“But we’re kind of in a master-disciple relationship, aren’t we?”
“Still, it’s a no. Plus, I’m going to be busy.”
“Are you going into a project?”
“Probably. And… it’s nothing. I’ll tell you some other time. But definitely be alert for something.”
Ganghwan was saying some mysterious words. Did his business have something to do with Maru as well? For now, Maru just nodded. He’d probably have to prepare for something.
“Do you happen to know any cute female teachers?”
Maru smiled and told the man to get a move on, Ganghwan shrugged before leaving in his car.
“Maru! Let’s go!”
11pm. It was minutes from before the last bus of the day left. Maru walked towards his friends alongside his bike. It took quite some effort to get Miso away from him, but he managed to get his bike today.
“Hah,” Dojin sighed.
“Let’s work hard.”
“Well, that came out of nowhere.”
“You two really need to work hard. Especially since that’s your dreams now. I… Just need to get along for the ride.”
Dojin was smiling a little awkwardly. Maru pat the boy’s back. Daemyung, too, awkwardly pat Dojin.
“Don’t forget me if you become famous.“
“Don’t dream too much about the high life, since it’s not going to happen.”
“In any case, at least mention my name if you get on TV.”
“Any time, friend.”
Daemyung said ‘me too’ under his breath as well.
“Let’s work hard.”
Work hard. The phrase warmed up Maru’s chest ever so slightly.Previous Chapter Next Chapter