Chapter 141

"So it's begun."

Moonjoong quietly opened the door.

"Um, sir, if you may, could we have a few words..."

One of the reporters followed behind him, Moonjoong turned to glare at the reporter angrily.

"The play is about to start"

"Ah... I apologize."

Moonjoong clicked his tongue in disapproval, he could see Chulmin smile bitterly as well. The door was already open and the kids inside were acting. These kids surely worked very hard to get on stage today. Moonjoong respected the amount of work these kids put into their plays and he didn't want to disturb them. After confirming that the reporter went elsewhere, Moonjoong quietly entered. The corridor lights were already turned off and only the lights indicating where the stairs were were left on. Moonjoong could see little silhouettes of people moving at the stage in front of him, the play seemed to have just begun.

"It's been too long," Moonjoong whispered.

He's often attended plays held by the government acting theaters, but he hadn't seen a play done by students in a very long time. What did these unpolished gems in front of him have to show? He was starting to get a little excited.

"Are you going to stand?"

Moonjoong nodded at Chulmin's question. The play would likely last for a full hour. Instead of making his way through the crowd of audiences, he would much rather stand calmly at the back.

"You folks should go sit over there." Moonjoong told the young actors that followed him.

"It's alright, sir."

Most of the actors shook their head, but Joohyun whispered 'yes' as she took her seat. Moonjoong couldn't help but appreciate the woman for her confidence.

"It's starting."

The lights turned on, painting the stage with a blue hue. The speakers started emitting sounds of a cold wind blowing. The spotlight turned on, focusing on a young man walking out from the right side.

“In the end, I moved here. I should try to earn money as fast as I can and move to the city. Well, at least the town looks quiet.”

The boy said his line with a slight smile before walking to the other side. The sound of a car passing came from the speakers and then the sound of construction workers.

“Nice sound effects.”

“Yeah.”

The lights came back on again. There were a few houses, a store, and a table. The boy from a moment ago walked towards the store.

“Damned granny! I told you that’s not it!”

“Do you want to get on an express train to hell, old man? I told you I’d break all of your fingers if you gambled with old man Kim again, didn’t I?”

“Y-you…! Watch your language, woman!”

A boy dressed up as an old man quickly ran out of the store. Soon, a girl in grandma’s makeup ran out with a broomstick in her hand. Moonjoong was a fan of the abrasive nature of their dialogue, he also noticed the detail in the way the boy walked. The boy intentionally made a turtle neck as he stumbled forward. Clearly a lot of research was put into this.

“Stupid old man.”

The grandma character threw the broom to the side of the stage. She threw it with such force that the broomstick spun out of sight. From behind the curtains, the audience could hear the old man shout, ‘ouch!’ The audience laughed lightly as they saw the old lady humph satisfactorily.

“H-hello.”

The boy awkwardly greeted the grandma. The club seemed to be trying to portray the situation with a bit of surprise from the main character, but it didn’t feel awkward at all. Some actors often overreacted when they showed surprise. That was a mistake. In the end, acting is grounded in reality. It was true that an actor would have to accentuate the drama on stage, but the actor still needs to maintain a balance. Moonjoong narrowed his eye as he looked at the stage, he’s seen the main character somewhere else before.

“Ah, he’s the kid that Junmin took in.”

“Junmin?”

“He showed me the kid a while ago asking if I was interested in raising him.”

“I see. He’s gotten very busy, hasn’t he? I feel like he’s involved in just about everything nowadays.”

The boy was called… Hong Geunseok? The name reminded Moonjoong of someone else. He looked behind him in curiosity with Chulmin.

“He’s my brother,” Geunsoo responded.

Moonjoong nodded. The boy must’ve developed an interest in acting through his older brother. Very nice. Oddly enough, Geunsoo looked a little conflicted when he looked at the stage. Did something happen between him and his brother? Moonjoong was a little curious but decided to leave it for now.

“A comedy, huh.”

“They chose a difficult one. I don’t know who their instructor is, but they must be very bold.”

Making people laugh was much more difficult than making them cry. Take a person crying in a subway, for example. Most people would feel sorry for that person. Sadness was a very easy emotion to share. No other emotion in the world was as infectious as it. Laughter was different. Again, back to the subway example. If someone in front of you was laughing, most would think it to be odd. Some might even find it irritating. In fact, 90% of the time people would wonder why that person is laughing. For crying, it’s very easy to start from that same thought and come to the conclusion of, ‘I should help that person’. The same thing doesn’t happen often for laughter. Because laughter is often a mixture of several different emotions.

“Challenge doesn’t always land you good scores.”

“They’re doing very well, though. They clearly got the basics down.”

Moonjoong nodded. It was very easy to tell from the way that the students acted that they practiced a ton for this play. Their pronunciation, movements, and vocalization, though lacking in some areas, surpassed the standard.

“They were taught well.”

“That I agree with.”

They even wanted to see who the instructor was.

“Ah, Blue Sky, was it?”

Blue Sky. Moonjoong had heard of the theater company a few times as well. It was a place where the younger actors of Hyehwa stations liked to experiment, he’s even visited the place a few times.

“It’s a place where I’m currently staying. The people acting there are all my juniors,” Geunsoo responded.

“You must feel quite proud.”

“Yes. I really am. I hope they win an award.”

“Just like you?”

“Of course.”

Moonjoong smiled and turned his attention back to the stage. A plump little boy walked out this time, wearing slightly worn clothes with a book in his hand. Geunseok greeted the boy. They exchanged small talk for a few seconds before the plump boy’s line really began.

“The world, you know, is rotten! Everyone’s trying to get into the government job market, because it’s dumb easy. How stupid is that? If you ask the kids nowadays what they want to be, it’s no longer stuff like the president or a scientist. It’s a government worker or an office worker. Tsk tsk. People need a vision nowadays, don’t you think?”

“R-right.”

“No matter how hard life is, you need to chase after your dreams! Everyone wants to be a government worker. A government worker! Ugh! No wonder the country is becoming like this. What are you doing, by the way?”

“I’m an office worker.”

“An office worker? I pity you.”

“...What do you do, sir?”

“Me? I’m studying to become a government worker so that I can help society.”

The plump boy looked at the audience seats with pride, the boy had such pride in his eyes that made him comical. The audience laughed a little here and there. No one was laughing particularly loudly, but the general mood of the play seemed pretty set. A difficult feat to achieve, especially for a comedy.

“They’re doing well.”

“That they are.”

Geunseok played a very average office worker, the very definition of average, as a matter of fact. On the other hand, all of the side characters in this play were very, very odd characters. In a normal play, a character like Geunseok shouldn’t exist. After all, a play is just fantasy in the end. It would be boring to put someone so average in a play. But the comedic basis of this play came from the interactions between eccentric characters and the reasonable main character. That is, instead of making the story the main point of the play, the characters took the center stage.

Plays like this depended highly on the actor’s talent. Either the play could ingrain all of its characters into the audience’s head, or remain completely immemorable.

“The instructor understands the kids very well.”

“It’s not a risky bet, it was a challenge. Or a winning lotto ticket.”

Geunsoo quietly butted into their conversation.

“I might look like I’m bragging, but the instructor’s my friend.”

Chulmin lightly thonked Geunsoo’s head with his fist. What an amusing guy. Moonjoong’s been surprised and amused many times by Geunsoo’s acting. The man had a ton of passion for acting.

“I kind of want the plump one,” Chulmin commented.

Moonjoong nodded. The plump kid was very good at displaying his character’s personality. He was doing it by showing, instead of just telling. The best part was that shaky legs of the boy right now. If you looked closely, you’d notice that the boy’s left was moving with a certain rhythm to it, meaning that the boy was already calculating all of his leg movements in his head. The fact that his small mistakes were starting to look like a part of his character’s personality was a testament to the fact that the kid was trying very hard.

“Damn, this world is disgusting.”

When the plump boy exit the stage with a small frown, Geunseok followed the boy out with a big sigh.

“Um, that bread over there. That’s mine!” Geunseok said on the way out.

The stage became dark again. It looked like the scene was about to change, but that wasn’t the case. As the stage regained its blue hue, a kid stuck his head out from the side curtain on the left.

“It’s really loud, isn’t it?”

The character talked to the audience as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. The spotlight weakly focused on the actor, making the entire stage feel a little dream-like.

“The lighting’s very good, too.”

“They made good use of what little they have.”

Moonjoong didn’t want to analyze the play, but he really couldn’t help it. Chulmin smiled, realizing exactly what Moonjoong was thinking.

“We can’t watch plays normally anymore. We’re too old.”

“I’m not old.”

Moonjoong let out a small laugh before focusing on the play again. He couldn’t help but take note of the staging more so than the actors. The instructor was Geunsoo’s friend, was it? That meant the person was likely to be in the industry. It looked like the high school really went all out this time to hire a good instructor.

“In any case, this play really does have everything.”

“Breaking the third wall… It looks like whoever wrote the script did so in the reference of a standup comedy. Do all high schools nowadays like to try new things like them?”

“No, it’s just this one.”

“I like it.”

“Agreed.”

The actor on stage was standing precariously at the edge of the stage. He was even lifting his heels up, frightening some of the audience members at the front.

“You can see me?”

The actor, who looked like he was about to jump into the seats, took a small turn to return to the center.

“...This is a surprise.”

Moonjoong crossed his arms. Occasionally when you run a theater company, you get to meet odd actors. Ones that don’t seem special, but still manages to entice the crowd. It’s not like they’re handsome, good at acting, or good at displaying emotions, but they still get the attention of the audience more so than the main characters. Those who are called scene stealers in movies. Of course, that didn’t mean the said actors were bad at acting. It just meant that the actors were more average compared to the others, the odd thing was that you couldn’t help but focus on that actor in spite of it all.

“He has energy,” Moonjoong muttered before looking at Chulmin.

Chulmin was silently focusing at the boy on stage. Moonjoong silently took a peek at the audience. Every single one of them was following the movements of the little actor on stage.

“Dalseok-dong is a very noisy place. There’s an odd student living here, there’s a very loud grandma and grandpa here. Ah, there’s also a lady who likes to overprice everything she sells. She’ll come out a little later. How do I know that? I read the script. It’s all there.”

The boy moved left and right with each line, almost as if he was talking to a friend. He managed to break the wall between the audience and the stage perfectly and was communicating with the audience. It almost felt like he was whispering words to all of them right next to their ears.

“He’s very well-practiced. Good.”

Chulmin was smiling. This friend always became happy when he found the star that shone in a play. The boy clearly knew how to grab attention even with a quiet voice. He knew how to talk to a crowd and he was very used to it. He directed attention using the gestures of his hands and he naturally gestured at his face as he stared directly at the crowd.

He was bringing the audience close to him. Quietly.

Moonjoong could tell that the boy was boiling over with energy inside, yet he was doing his utmost to try to control it. Left alone, the boy would be able to run around the stage, gripping the attention of the audience, but doing that would break the nature of his character. The boy knew exactly what he needed to do to make use of the dreamlike scene given to him.

When you walk along Hyehwa station, you end up seeing many young actors acting on the street. Among them, there are many artists who can easily become pros, especially the singers. Many of them are frighteningly good at what they do, but you never end up watching them for long. That’s the difficulty artists face with audiences. Skills? Of course, the skills were important, but it’s not everything.

You can occasionally see it. A singer who occasionally breaks up and stumbles on a chord, he doesn’t even use an amp to help him along. Despite that, he gathers a massive crowd around him. He fills up his mistakes with the guitar with his audiences singing along with him and hides his breaking voice with the cheers from the audience. The quiet noise of the guitar only draws the audience closer to him.

An artist that the audience loves. The children who are loved by the muses. Those who grip the attention of the audience purely through the energy that they emanate.

“Oh, the villagers are coming now.”

The boy turned to the left after saying that. He turned so quickly that the baseball cap fell from his head. It must’ve been intentional, given how the boy quickly looked at the audience with a “sh” gesture and ran away.

Moonjoong couldn’t hide his smile as he watched the boy’s expression.

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