Giving advice was a sensitive thing. Maru dug up an old memory. He didn’t remember exactly what kind of situation he was in, but he could clearly remember the woman’s words filled with conviction.
-My words will never reach you since they are always said in vain, but I will keep saying them. Maybe one day, I’ll reach you if I try several, dozens, or hundreds of times. I cannot guarantee that my words will change you. However, there’s no guarantee that my words will never change you either. Even if my words disappear in vain, if I say them many many times, perhaps one day, one person out of the hundreds of people that heard me might have changed. I will be able to smile in satisfaction when that day comes.
Whether he heard those words from a company education session, or from a teacher when he was in school, he didn’t remember. The voice was clear to him, but the context wasn’t. He didn’t even know who those words were directed at, but he could make out the meaning quite clearly.
These kinds of words appeared quite a lot during speeches on TV programs. They were said to wrap things up after giving a speech. That the speaker would be satisfied if just one person out of the entire audience had his or her life changed because of that speech.
Most of the time, advice was useless. Maru thought that as well. If advice was effective, this world would have turned into a utopia a long time ago. To listen to others and make those words their own was definitely not something easy. There were very few people that could do that. Words that took the form of advice when entering other people’s ears usually disappeared without going through the brain. They were mostly substituted by mocking laughs or perhaps annoying noises, before getting dumped into the psychological trash can.
Maru was aware of the importance of advice. If there was one way to learn about the essence of life without experience, it would be to get advice from those that had experienced it already.
He had already experienced how important it was to listen to someone else’s words, so Maru did not take any advice he heard lightly. He took them to heart even if it was something awkward. Even from nonsensical advice, there were things to be gained after disassembling its meaning and reversing its intent. Maru was well aware that a combination of such words was enough to change the personality known as Han Maru.
Most of the time, advice did not hold more meaning than words of interruption.
However, from time to time, they possessed power unlike any other to people that were ready to accept that advice.
That was the reason he rarely advised people despite knowing that it was useless most of the time. Maru did not like responsibility, nay, he was afraid of it. He wanted to make an escape path for himself whenever he thought about the weight that words contained.
Advice always came hand in hand with responsibility. Whether it was advice coming from the bottom of the heart, or an awkward one made up on the spot in order to maintain face, if there was a person that listened to that advice and changed their life due to it, the advisor might one day receive this question: I lived my life as you told me to, so why am I in this state?
“I am going to have a look at your acting, and I will tell you my own opinions without holding back. If you need advice, I will naturally give you some. However, there’s something you must keep in mind. You may listen to my words, but don’t trust them fully.”
Maru looked at the kids standing in front of him.
“Those of you that said you dreamed to become an actor, please raise your hand. Only raise your hand if you truly want to join the entertainment industry.”
Seventeen boys, and fifteen girls. All of the first year students raised their hands. Whether it was Miso fanning the flames, or it was just that such people had gathered at the acting club, he did not know, but Maru still sighed in a small voice.
“I want to become an action actor!” Bangjoo, who was watching from one side, raised his voice.
Maru told him to calm down. In Bangjoo’s case, his will was clear. His familial circumstances could help his dream as well. There was Ahn Joohyun to back him up, so what did he have to worry about?
But that wasn’t the case with the first year juniors here.
“Since you are all aspiring to become true actors, I will say it once again. You may listen to me, but don’t trust my words fully. If you live your life while taking my advice as the truth, you will definitely regret it.”
He paused after saying up to that point. After a moment, his juniors spoke.
“Seonbae-nim. You’re being way too serious.”
“Right. Just do it lightly. We aren’t kids.”
“We’ll filter things out by ourselves. We aren’t idiots.”
Maru hammered the nail once again as he looked at his juniors.
“If you think that way, then I guess it’s good.”
“But why did you say those words?” Chihwan asked.
“To avoid responsibility.”
“To avoid responsibility?”
After making sour expressions, the juniors burst out laughing. The girls were even slapping each other’s arms as they giggled.
“Maru-seonbae. You’re actually funnier than you look.”
“I thought you were a scary person since you always stayed quiet, but you’re a completely different person once you start talking.”
“No one’s going to ask you to take responsibility. You’re worrying way too much.”
“No one’s going to blame you so just tell us a lot.”
Most of them seemed to think that he was joking. Maru also did not add anything. He did expect things to go like this. They were still students after all. They were detached from words like ‘responsibility’.
“Then let’s start. Jinpil, was it?”
“Do the same thing you did in the audition,” Maru said to the first year junior standing in front of him.
* * *
“It’s natural that you are bad since you didn’t have enough time to interpret the script. However, you should have thought about what you are going to do at least.”
Chihwan looked at Maru, who was speaking with his legs crossed. Dongmin, who had finished acting just now, was totally silent as he listened to Maru’s words. His expression became stiffer and stiffer as Maru continued to speak. It wasn’t that he was dissatisfied. It was probably because the questions Maru asked were very hard to answer.
The nine people that showed their acting to Maru until now experienced the same thing. Whether they were good at acting or not, they were given sharp questions. They tried their best to give good answers, but Maru would give them new questions as soon as they answered.
Dongmin turned around with his shoulders drooping. Chihwan looked at Daemyung, who stood behind Maru. Usually, the club president would clap and encourage everyone, but he was staying quiet for some reason. Thanks to that, the atmosphere on the 5th floor was quiet and even desolate.
‘I thought he would take things lightly.’
He did find it a little strange that Maru was talking about responsibility and whatnot before he started looking at people’s acting, but he thought that he just understood wrong. When Jinpil’s acting ended and he was given a barrage of questions, he thought that that was because he was the first. But that wasn’t it. Maru was very persistent with his barrage of questions to the point that it felt unpleasant. During Jinpil’s turn, he honestly just laughed. He found it funny that his friend was just licking his lips, unable to answer the questions at all, and he even wanted to leave behind a record of it as a video. However, when the same thing repeated for the 2nd and 3rd times, he was no longer able to laugh. He realized that he would soon be one of the sacrifices to those merciless questions. The girls sitting next to him even started writing things down as they waited for their turn. The acting advice session that started off with a laugh became a stifling event.
Looking at Maru, who took a bit of a break to drink some water, Chihwan took a deep breath. It was his turn now. He kept looking at the script while he waited. Even if he couldn’t act that well, he didn’t want to make any mistakes.
“Chihwan was next, was it?”
“Yes, it’s me.”
“Do you think you can do it now?”
Chihwan thought about scene 14 as he stood up. He missed a lot of things during the audition since he didn’t have much time, like the fact that the main character was reaching his hand out to the transfer student when he was in a difficult situation himself. Based on common sense, it would be incredibly difficult to even talk to the new student. The scene 14 that he only thought of as cool might not turn out to be really like that.
“Are you ready?”
He hesitated for a while because he was thinking. Chihwan started acting immediately. A little more awkwardly, thinking that he should do it like he was struggling.
“So, we should help each other out. They say the winner is the one who lasts until the end, right?”
Chihwan slowly reached out. He briefly forgot what kind of shape he should make his hand when offering a handshake, but he did not have any time to think about such a thing so he just pretended to grab slightly.
He then breathed in deeply before stepping back. He sighed in relief. He didn’t make any mistakes when saying his lines. Unlike the first time, when his head was totally blank, he was able to think a bit while he acted this time. Wait, wasn’t that a great improvement? He was still awkward, but he was proud of the progress he made.
“You’re finished, right?”
“Is your dream to become an actor as well, Chihwan?”
“Yes! I want to become an actor.”
“May I ask why?”
“Uhm… I haven’t thought about the reason, but being an actor is good. You can become famous and earn a lot of money.”
“I see. I guess that’s clearer than the others. Then let me start asking questions.”
It was finally here. Chihwan straightened his waist. He did not make any mistakes when he acted. He believed that the intensity of questions would be a lot weaker than the people that came before him.
“I keep saying this, but there’s no need to take me so seriously.”
“Then onto the first question. What kind of character was the main character that you acted?”
He could answer that quickly since he was expecting that sort of question.
“A pitiful person who’s being bullied.”
“Does being bullied make you a pitiful person?”
“What? Don’t most people think that way?”
“I’m asking about your opinion, not the general opinion.”
“I think that it does. He’s being bullied and excluded by the others in his class. It’s definitely not a situation where you should laugh.”
Maru faintly nodded. Perhaps he was satisfied with that answer?
“How did you feel when you acted?”
“How did I feel?”
“I’m asking for the emotional state you were in when you acted out the ‘pitiful main character’ that you talked about.”
“Honestly speaking, I didn’t really feel anything. I was too caught up with doing my lines properly.”
“That’s definitely possible. Let’s make assumptions then. Let’s say that you have a perfect interpretation of the script. What did you feel when you acted out this character in front of the camera?”
After thinking about it for a while, Chihwan replied,
“Of course, I felt pity.”
“Why did you, I mean, why would you feel pity?”
“Because he’s a pitiful character.”
“Let’s say that you and I are two people on very bad terms, and I just won the lottery. How would you feel when you saw that?”
“Not good, at least. I might be annoyed. You’re a person I hate after all.”
“Now, let’s say that in this situation, your soul came into my body. You have just won the lottery. How would you feel?”
“Hm, good, probably. I won the lottery after all.”
“Then, let’s change it again. You are looking at the main character being bullied. You felt pity. Now your soul went into the main character. Would you still pity yourself?”
Chihwan felt like he was given a big whack. He quickly opened the script. Throughout the script, there were parts that implied that the main character was going to commit suicide. When he read that, he pitied the main character even more. However, how would he feel if he was in the main character’s shoes? Would a mere ‘pity’ be enough to describe his own emotional state?
“I want to live. I want to kill. I want to die. I don’t know how, but I need to go to school. I feel crazy. I want to throw up. I want to run away. It’s horrible. There’s no hope. I want time to stop. I hope the world can end. I want to go where there’s no one. I want to start over in a place no one knows me. I want someone to help me.”
Those words came from Maru’s mouth. The individual lines, that weren’t connected in any way, sounded scary as though they represented the main character’s emotions.
“I think that the foundation of acting is whether you can make the viewers accept or not. Acting contains a lot of variability, but I think that it all comes down to whether you can invoke sympathy in the viewers. The character on the screen is definitely not them, but they sometimes cry, laugh, and even become angry when looking at that character. That’s because they are sympathizing with the character. The emotions that the character harbors inside are also within the viewers and are also similar. That’s why we are able to share emotions with fictional characters.”
Chihwan nodded. He understood what Maru was trying to say.
“Do you get what I mean?”
“Yes, I think I get it.”
Something welled up in him. He felt like he found out some great secret. Maybe his acting would reach a completely different level - Chihwan had such thoughts.
At that moment, Maru gave him the next question as though he read his mind.
“However, most of us don’t have any experience being bullied. What we know is a fraction of abstract emotions that we ‘think’ such people feel, as well as the persuasive information that we receive through the media. In the end, it is all fake. We can only act on what is fake. In that sense, Chihwan.”
“What do you think you need to do in order to make something real out of something fake? Don’t think about it too deeply before answering. I’m not taking an ‘I don’t know’ for an answer, so bear that in mind as well.”
Oh no. The barrage of questions had just started.
“You can take your time. Daemyung, give me some water.”
Chihwan looked around. He saw the faces stricken with fright from those that were waiting for their turn. It seemed that practice was going to be really long today.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Wow, I thought that was pretty basic to feel what the character feels instead of what you feel about the character... am I the only one?
Anyway, Maru's roasts are always good to see.
First year students. You guys are receiving teaching in a 5 million won per month academy style (Paid Miso style) from one of the most mature people there is. You should be thankful.
Miso's influence on him is really obvious here huh.