“I think that should do,” Yoojin spoke as she took her hands off.
She handed Yoojin some cotton. Yoojin cleaned up the area around the eyes of the girl sitting in front of her in a delicate manner. The brown eyeshadow was spread around and the eyes were emphasized.
She exclaimed in a small voice. Yoojin was like a professional makeup artist. Yoojin’s makeup skills were excellent and were not worse off even when compared to the lady that always helped Myunghwa High whenever they went on stage.
“I think that’s enough. What do you think?”
“I feel like it’s not me.”
“It is you. Jiyoon, your head is innately round, so I emphasized the outline of your chin. You’ll look sharper under some light. I thought that you look better that way rather than just looking innocent.”
“It turned out much better than I was thinking. Thank you, unni.”
“That’s good then. But I think you should shorten your shoulder straps a little. Others might see underneath your clothes.”
Yoojin fixed up Jiyoon’s attire. She helped out from the side as well. They pulled the shoulder straps and fixed it in place with a clip. Now, her clothes wouldn’t hang downwards even if she crouched forward.
Jiyoon thanked the two before leaving the dressing room. With that, all the makeup was done.
“It’s over!” Yoojin stretched her arms out as she spoke.
She gave her an energy drink while thanking her for the job. She had bought a whole box, but it was empty already.
“Uhm, we need to use the dressing room now.”
A girl wearing white mourning clothes opened the door and spoke. She immediately picked up the trash lying on the floor and stood up. Yoojin packed up the cosmetics. When they left the dressing room, they saw students waiting outside in the corridor. They walked past the students wearing various costumes and left the corridor.
They looked for places to sit on the first floor lobby, but there was a person sitting on every seat. There were a lot of parents and students who came to cheer their team on.
“I’m sure there must be some of them that were forced to come here,” Yoojin said.
She nodded as well. Since it was a play done by youths, the audience was always small. Although the finals, which were held in Seoul Art Center, always had full seats because of advertising, the regionals were mostly empty unless the participating schools selected students to come and watch. That was why schools recommended students to go and watch. It was a ‘recommendation’ on the surface, but some schools even checked attendance.
“Should we go outside?” She pointed at a bench outside.
“At least there’s shade.”
If there wasn’t a tree behind the bench, they would have roasted themselves in the heat of August. The empty lot in front of the Center of Culture was bustling with students practicing. They were all reading their scripts under the shade. Although the building was much cooler, the organizers required them to be quiet inside the building, so they could only go outside in order to practice.
“There’s Woosung High,” Yoojin pointed towards the right of the building. They were sitting in a circle next to a fountain that wasn’t in operation, practicing. Maru was leaning against the marble wall and was looking at the expressions of each member very closely.
“He’s in the team, so they should be able to advance into the finals without a hitch.”
“You haven’t seen him acting up close, have you?”
“No, I have. We shot a drama together last time.”
“You mean Youth Generation?”
“Yeah. I went there for one day as a part time job.”
“Then I guess you must have seen his frightening acting skills then.”
“Frightening acting skills?”
She tilted her head. From what she saw, Maru’s acting during the drama shoot was far from ‘frightening’. His acting wasn’t out of place. He looked neither splendid nor lacking. It was just ordinary.
In fact, Maru’s acting during his first year seemed better. On the stage, Maru gave off a different vibe from the rest. She was even a little jealous of his uniqueness back then.
“You don’t look convinced.”
“I don’t know if you should call it frightening. He’s just… ordinarily good.”
“No way. I watched him during the read-through of the movie. Even the lead actors were slightly surprised. The director even complimented him. And you call him ordinarily good?”
Yoojin had an expression of disbelief. She fell into thought. Was she wrong? No. During the drama shoot, Maru didn’t show anything that made her heart flutter.
“It must be because the role is different, right? Different roles give off different vibes.”
“No, that shouldn’t be. If he does it, even the ordinary wouldn’t look ordinary anymore. Of course, a professional actor should be better than him overall. But just for that day, just for that moment, he was beyond the pros. I got the chills just watching him. He did have a scary line, but that can’t explain all of it.”
Yoojin pouted and looked at Maru.
“Of course, like what you said, it might have been because that role was special, but still….”
That shouldn’t be the case - continued Yoojin in a small voice. She also had a look at Maru who was standing afar. He was talking to his club members with a serious expression. A frightening act? Maru’s acting definitely had a charm that captured the attention of the audience. She knew that from experience. She wasn’t focusing on him because she liked him. When she sat in the audience seats, she became quite cold-minded. Despite that, Maru’s acting that she saw before had some kind of energy that made her unable to take her eyes off him.
However, she couldn’t judge that as ‘frightening acting skills’. She would definitely shiver in excitement if she felt so. Unfortunately, Maru’s acting wasn’t at that level yet. Although he was unique enough to stand out from the rest of the people on stage, he didn’t overwhelm everyone else.
“I guess I’ll see today,” she spoke.
Woosung High’s turn would start in just a short while. She didn’t need to think about it, she just needed to see it. She grabbed Yoojin’s hand, who looked a little down for some reason and stood up.
“Let’s get seats early on. I want to watch from the front.”
“Ah, you’re right. There are a lot of people, aren’t there?”
“Yeah, so we should go in early.”
She grabbed Yoojin’s hand and walked into the building.
* * *
“Looks like we’re having a hard time for two days in a row.”
Ahn Pilhyun greeted the two people in front of him as he entered the building.
Pilhyun was a playwright. He wrote a few play scenarios and had experience helping out with writing a movie scenario. A while ago, he was requested to be one of the judges for the regional preliminaries, and he accepted that job. Actually, he accepted because he wasn’t making progress on the scenario he was writing. He accepted that job in order to give himself the excuse that ‘he was too busy because of the job’.
He felt pathetic, but he wanted to get some room to breathe even if he had to do that.
The two people next to him also worked in the art field. One was the leader of a theater troupe, while the other was a university professor.
“Everyone’s pretty good, right?”
“Yes. They have their own thematic consciousness and their acting is pretty good as well.”
“Some of them will proceed to major in theater and film, right? Haa, that department has it hard these days. There are a lot of kids wanting to be actors, but there just aren’t enough spots for all of them.”
The professor, who was a woman, sighed.
Pilhyun ignored the professor’s words. This woman sighed all the time. He played along with her yesterday, but from how she hadn’t changed at all today, it would be very tiring for him to play along again. The other man, the leader of the theater troupe, crossed his arms and dozed off as soon as he sat down, just as he did yesterday. It seemed like he was going to watch just a little bit and make his judgment off that. Again, just like yesterday.
Pilhyun wasn’t in a position to talk either. Although he said that their acting was pretty good, he was saying that based on the fact that they were just high school students. What he really meant was that they were just ‘not horrible to watch’ and not ‘worth watching deeply’.
He sighed as he fidgeted with the pen in his hand. He thought of something good to write yesterday, so he sat down in front of his desk, but he got stuck after just two lines. He felt like he was going to lose all of his hair just writing the synopsis of a movie. It was a sad reality that he was worrying about balding at the age of forty-three. In truth, he had lost quite a lot of hair as well. It must all be because of stress.
He thought about sleeping just like the man next to him. It didn’t sound like a bad idea to look for stories in his dream. Since the plays that were going to be acted out today were probably of similar styles to yesterday’s, it probably wouldn’t make a difference even if he didn’t watch it properly.
* * *
“Woosung High, please get ready.”
They were expecting to hear that ever since they heard the audience applaud from inside the waiting room behind the stage. They were signalled by the staff to go on the stage. There was a 20-minute break. They had to finish setting up the stage within that time.
“Daemyung! Start with the cabinet!”
The four boys moved the metal cabinet with the plate that read ‘Department of Investigation’ on it. Following that, they moved the bars of the holding cell, which were just PVC pipes painted in silver.
“Should I put the desk over here?”
“Yeah, that looks good.”
“What about this desk and this chair?”
“Let’s distance them a little further apart. Move them closer to the cabinet.”
“What about the hanger for the police hats and jackets?”
“Right of that desk!”
Maru ran to the bottom of the stage.
“Daemyung! Move the desk next to you to the left! Also, Bangjoo! Push the hanger forward a little and hang the police hat a little higher up!”
Even if the set looked perfect from the stage, it was wrong if it didn’t look right to the audience. Maru adjusted the distance between each item so that it wouldn’t look too empty from the audience.
“Do you need any help?”
Maru turned his head when he heard her voice. She was standing with Yoojin.
“It’s fine. We’re almost finished.”
She nodded once before sitting in the front seat. It seemed that the two had entered the hall early to watch from the front.
“How does it look to you? Do you see anything awkward?”
“No, it looks good to me.”
“What about you, Yoojin?”
“Wouldn’t it look better if there was something like a computer on the desk?”
“We’re going to bring it soon.”
At that moment, Dowook appeared carrying a monitor. He placed it on the police desk that Daemyung was sitting at and adjusted the angle. Since Daemyung couldn’t be hidden behind the monitor, he placed the monitor to the edge of the desk.
“I’ll get going now then.”
“Alright. Don’t make a mistake.”
Having returned to the stage again, Maru picked up the glow-in-the-dark tape and started checking the movement lines. They wouldn’t be able to see anything in the dark. The people behind the holding cell bars didn’t move much, but Daemyung, who would be outside, had to move around a lot. There was a scene where he had to leave the scene and come back in again, and he was marking those spots.
“Everyone, gather round.”
Daemyung called everyone. There were three minutes left now.
“Like Maru said in the morning, anyone can make a mistake. Those mistakes are an element of the play. Without them, there would be no nervousness either. So even if you do make a mistake, don’t feel guilty about it. It’s natural. Instead, if you forget your line or were late to do something, don’t panic and take deep breaths. Act as though taking deep breaths is a part of the scene.”
Daemyung said a part of his lines and stopped midway. Then, he grabbed his forehead and sighed. He acted as though that sigh was a part of the play.
“If you can buy some time like that, the others can help you. You don’t need to do it hastily. This is our stage. No one will blame us even if we make a mistake.”
Daemyung put his right hand out.
Then the hands pushed downward.
At the same time, there was an announcement in the building.
- Part three of the youth acting festival, Woosung High’s play, will begin shortly. Please…
Maru took a deep breath and looked at Daemyung. Daemyung on stage wasn’t the usual sluggish Daemyung. He had sharper and more astute eyes than anyone else here. He was a reliable club president in this place.
They hid behind the side curtains. They could hear people talking as they entered the hall. This was the most exciting time last year as well.
Maru looked at the first years standing behind him. Jiyoon, Aram, and Bangjoo all looked nervous.
“There are quite a lot of people outside. Wanna look?” Maru asked the three.
They all shook their heads and replied ‘no’.
“How about you, Dowook?”
“Don’t talk to me. I might forget my lines. Damn, it’s nerve-wracking.”
“Do you want a calming pill?”
“Shut up. I’m really nervous so stay still.”
Even the usually bossy guy was nervous because of his first stage. The pressure must be completely different from the almost joking of a play that they did during the festival. The heat from the stage lights, the breath of the audience, the texture of the floor would all affect his heart rate.
“Think of it as playing around.”
That was the only advice Maru could give. There was no nervousness that would disappear just by telling them to ‘stop being nervous’. It was the capability of the individual to change that nervousness into energy. That wasn’t something that someone else could help with.
‘The only option is to get nervous and clash with the audience head on.’
The lights shining on the audience slowly dimmed. It would go completely dark in just a moment. They had to go on the stage and get into position at that time. When the lights turned on again, they would no longer be in the Suwon Center of Culture, but a police station within the country somewhere.
“Take a deep breath.”
Daemyung’s voice could be heard. The juniors all took a deep breath just like he said.
Then, darkness finally pervaded the stage.
 A shout to rally everyone in Korea.
Registering for uni classes be like
10:00:00a.m. Class registration begins.
10:00:02a.m. All classes are full. (Yes that is SECONDS, not MINUTES)
That happened to me... I only managed to register three credits for my major (out of 18 max) and had to apply for two humanities courses... (cuz uni isn't free...)
Man, this author is brutally real with describing the judges...