Chapter 579

“So when are we telling the others about it?”

“I’d like it to be before the competition.”

“Since we’re at it, let’s just do it today. Bring it up after practice, seonbae. I don’t like delaying things.”

“Okay, let’s do that.”

Daemyung thought that it was just like Aram to think that way. She did not hesitate with her actions once she decided on something. Once Aram became the president, the acting club would probably become more cheerful. He looked forward to seeing how the acting club would change after this.

“Seonbae, did you have a hard time?”

Daemyung smiled awkwardly when he heard the soft voice from beside him. Jiyoon was looking at him with a worried face.

“It’s not like there’s a big problem. I’m just a bit tired so there’s no need to worry about me.”

“...In the future, tell me about it, even if it’s just once in a while. There’s nothing I can do, but I can listen to you. Like you were to me, I want to be of help to you.”

“O-okay, I’ll consult you from time to time.”

He looked at Jiyoon, who smiled back at him.

“Maybe I should get a boyfriend too.”

“Seonbae, aren’t you being too cruel in front of the singles here?”

Aram and Bangjoo commented as they walked up the stairs. Daemyung immediately turned his face forward. Although he was going out with Jiyoon, he didn’t know how to react whenever he heard something like that. He looked away in awkwardness before looking at Jiyoon. She was making a pouty face for some reason.

After looking at the grinning juniors, he closed his mouth and reached out behind him to grab Jiyoon’s hand. Jiyoon flinched and curled her shoulders upwards a little before making a smile. He grabbed her hand tightly before loosening his hand. Jiyoon’s expression was calm unlike before.

‘I feel like I just overcame a big hurdle.’

He grabbed her hand out of instinct, and it seemed to be the right answer. Had he pretended not to know anything, he would probably have received a gaze filled with disappointment. He had grown so he felt proud about it.

When they went up to the 5th floor, Daemyung saw the door to the hall closing. They usually left it open during breaks for ventilation, but it seemed that the juniors closed it.

“Maybe they’re starting to practice?”

Aram twitched her eyebrows and pulled the door open.

“What are you doing?” Aram asked after looking inside.

Daemyung also walked inside and looked inside the hall. The first year students were all looking in one direction. Daemyung then moved his gaze to the right end of the hall. Maru and Chihwan were standing on top of a wooden platform raised 10cm above the marble floor. The barbells and dumbbells were moved to one side.

“Seonbae-nim is here.”

“Do we continue?”

The juniors murmured amongst themselves. Daemyung walked up to Maru for now.

“What’s happening?” he asked as he glanced at Maru and Chihwan.

The script in Maru’s hand was a little odd. Did Chihwan ask him to look at his acting or something?

“You’re just in time. Daemyung, before we resume practice, can we do a short act?”

“Act? You mean from the play?”

“Yeah.”

Maru flapped the script in his hand.

“If you’re trying to teach the others, it’s more than welcome. What made you want to do this though? I thought you weren’t going to act as much as possible.”

“Why don’t you ask that proud-looking junior over there? He’s a pain in the butt.”

Maru sighed.

“Chihwan, what’s happening?”

“An acting battle.”

“Wh-what? What battle?”

“Acting battle!”

That term reverberated in Daemyung’s ears. It felt like his brain had shut down. After looking at him in a daze for a while, he turned around to look at Maru.

“What does he mean by that?”

“It’s a little complicated to explain so just give us scores after you watch. We’re going to act the same scene, so you guys should help out as well,” Maru said as he looked at the 2nd year students.

Daemyung brought a chair and sat in front of the platform, despite still being confused. Meanwhile, Aram had the first year students sit near the platform as well.

“Daemyung-seonbae, I can start now, right?”

Chihwan looked excited. Daemyung permitted him for now. He still couldn’t get a grasp on the situation, but from how Maru was staying still, it seemed that he had his plans.

‘But an acting battle all of a sudden?’

Daemyung calmed down his heart and grabbed the script. He didn’t know the circumstances, but it was pretty clear that the two were going to act the same character.

‘Now that I think about it, Maru has never shown off his proper skills, huh.’

Maru had drawn the line and said that he would just be a staff member this year. Even after they finalized the characters and started practicing, Maru had never shown off his script acting. He did demonstrate some of the technical elements like pronunciation and voicing, but he never showed anything that combined everything.

Perhaps this was a good thing. Seeing Maru’s stage acting would probably be a fresh shock for the juniors. Watching an actor on a TV screen was qualitatively different from seeing the acting firsthand. Even a CD recorded with the greatest recording equipment couldn’t be compared to listening to a live orchestra. Acting was the same. Unlike watching a tiny bit that was edited to go on TV, an actor’s real performance could only be seen in whole from up close.

Daemyung told the juniors to come as close as possible.

“If there’s not enough space, you can sit on the platform as well. Maru, is that okay?”

“It’s fine even if they come on stage.”

Daemyung told the first year students who had important roles in the play to go up on the stage and watch Maru from up close.

“...Isn’t that too close?” Chihwan asked as he looked at the others who were less than 10cm away from him.

They were within an arm’s reach.

“It doesn’t matter who’s there.”

“That’s true, but…. A-alright. You and I are under the same conditions. But seonbae, you know what the saying ‘a man’s word is heavier than gold’ right?”

“Heavier than gold or whatever, do as you wish.”

“Fine.”

It seemed that there was some sort of agreement between those two.

‘It doesn’t matter what kind of agreement those two came to. It’s fine as long as he can show others good acting.’

Daemyung took out his pen. He would probably find out more about Chihwan through this stage. It would help him with his growth if he wrote down his bad habits and told him later.

‘There’s probably nothing to write about Maru anyway.’

Maru would definitely show good acting. Maru was always serious when it came to the stage. He wasn’t someone who would accept showing a ‘practice’ that he didn’t prepare for fully instead of a ‘performance’. While he never participated in acting practice, Maru probably had a better understanding of the characters than anyone here.

‘Maru’s script. There’s a lot of signs that it’s been written on.’

Daemyung looked closely at the script in Maru’s right hand. The cover was tattered and from what he could glimpse of the inside, it was filled with pen writings. Although he did not take up a role, he probably analyzed and researched the script. That was because it would allow him to study which would help him improve his acting. Perhaps he might have delved into it thinking that he might be able to give a solution to the juniors when they were stuck on something.

Maru volunteered to be an outsider during his first year, but didn’t he care about the harmony of the acting club above everyone else?

Maru couldn’t be more disinterested in the things that weren’t related to him, but when it concerned the people around him, he looked after them to the point that it could be described as ‘meticulous’.

‘Though, he’s so clear cut when it comes to setting his priorities straight.’

Daemyung sometimes wondered to himself when Maru was with his girlfriend. Other than his family, was there anything or anyone that had as much value to Maru as her? Despite the fact that it was just a romance between students, Daemyung had the feeling that Maru was willing to give up anything for her. Even if it was something very important.

It sometimes gave him the chills.

It made him feel that perhaps real love was not as beautiful as people made it out to be. As ironic as that might be, looking at Maru made him think that. He couldn’t explain exactly why he had such an impression, but it sometimes made him uneasy when looking at the couple.

‘I must be mistaken, right?’

Daemyung shook off his thoughts and looked at the makeshift stage.

Chihwan seemed to have finished his preparations as he was calming down his breathing.

“It won’t be easy, you know?” he said in a small voice as he spun around his pen.

This would be completely different from practice. The colleagues who were practicing with him had now become the audience.

Audience, was there a word that made an actor experience such excitement and worry as that word? Chihwan had nearly non-existent stage experience. He might be able to gain confidence while practicing, but acting in front of an audience was something completely different.

“Phew, I’m nervous.”

His shoulders were stiff and the distance between his legs was awkward. His gaze was at a loss as well. He was pretending to be okay, but his nervousness was clear for Daemyung to see. As for Maru….

‘If he too is excited, Chihwan is a bit pitiful….’

It was clear that he was excited. Not the agitated kind that came from unease, but a sense of heightening that came from a situation where he had full control. He was reminded of Maru’s acting which he saw from behind the side curtains when he was in first year. Maru, who went up to the stage and talked to the audience, ended up devouring everything on stage like a predator who found fresh meat.

Daemyung remembered that moment. The curious feeling where he could feel Maru’s emotions and a sense of tension that was qualitatively different circulating inside his body. When he stood on the same stage as Maru, he felt that every one of his cells was reacting to Maru’s actions. Even when he didn’t have any confidence in his acting usually, he was filled with confidence when he was next to Maru.

A power that led other people forward.

Daemyung believed that the Maru on stage had such power.

“If Maru-seonbae was feeling bored, he should have done it with us. Ah, that looks fun,” Aram said next to him.

Bangjoo and Jiyoon were all looking excited as they looked at the stage that Maru was on.

“Before we start, I hope you can be fair in your judgment. The first years shouldn’t give me a good score just because we’re friends, and you shouldn’t take Maru-seonbae’s side, seonbae-nims. It’s a competition of pure acting after all.”

“Don’t worry about that. We’ll clearly see who’s better once we get a look,” Daemyung said.

Acting was the act of giving a form to something abstract. That was why there couldn’t be a real ‘scoreboard’. However, for some curious reason, it was possible to clearly distinguish acting that people liked and disliked. That was why acting was fun. It was as if there was an answer that existed since they were born. Good acting was good acting to anyone’s eyes. Conversely, awkward acting made even the audience feel embarrassed.

“Fine. I’ll go first. I’m a bit nervous, but I can do it. I practiced more than Maru-seonbae when it comes to this role at least.”

“Do everything you can.”

“I like Maru-seonbae, but I will win this time. It’s a fair battle between two men.”

“I wish you luck.”

Maru sat on the ground. He rested his chin on his hands and looked at Chihwan. Chihwan licked his lips before slapping his own cheeks.

“You can begin as soon as you’re ready,” Daemyung said to the two people.

Although they were consuming practice time, an event like this was perfectly fine. Daemyung hoped the first year students would show more interest in acting through this opportunity.

‘Oh, it’s different from my acting’. Once the juniors started thinking that, they would definitely start thinking about what better acting is, and that question, which there was no answer to, will make them grow.

Was Chihwan able to receive the gazes of the audience around him without letting them affect him? If he was not, he wouldn’t be able to start. A stage was where an actor was evaluated. Chihwan would be able to show a decent act if he didn’t get nervous and just showed what he practiced, but as long as this wasn’t a practice but a place for evaluation, his attitude when acting would be different, and that difference would show up in his acting.

Whether that difference would produce a good result or a bad one, he was about to find out.

“I’ll start after drinking some water.”

Chihwan stepped down from the stage for a moment.

Daemyung felt like he could see the results already.

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KTLChamber's Thoughts

Press F to pay respects to Chihwan, who's about to get obliterated.

Editor's Note:
Man, I can't wait.