Chapter 86

“It’s an issue of synergy.”

That was how Miso decided to summarize the situation. As mentioned previously, plays had three elements: the stage, the actor, and the audience. The reason why the audience was one of the three was that they were who gave life to the play itself, but that wasn’t the only reason why. On stage, an actor uses all of their imagination to become a specific character. Even a hardwood floor with a very rudimentary setup could become a sandy beach, once an actor’s imagination was applied to it.

The actor would project this scene onto the audience using his acting. The audience, having been delivered the actor’s imagination, could in turn project back their emotions. They could express themselves with sounds and gestures.

That’s right.

The reason why the audience counted as one of the three elements was because of their capability to send constant feedback. Whether the feedback is good or bad didn’t matter. What’s important is that their reactions had an impact on the actor.

For example, if a steely actor makes a mistake for an unknown reason on stage, and if the reactions from the audience were negative, the actor would probably get shaken greatly. That’s how big of an impact the audience had.

The actor had to perform under the gazes of tens of hundreds of people. Because of this, the actor always needed to be capable of handling the audience’s emotions.

“He definitely has talent. He was born with it. I’ve never taught him, and he’s never had time to learn. Despite that, he already knows how to work with the audience.”

A pro actor would’ve easily been able to measure how well they were synergizing with the audience, but this was Maru’s first stage. He had no idea how well he was doing. Miso didn’t know, either. Back then at the cafe, Miso simply thought he got the audience’s attention using his unique method, but that wasn’t it at all.

“That’s definitely true. Acting ability aside, he catches the eye of people really easily,” Ganghwan agreed.

Miso thought back to the play she saw in the morning. There, Maru had the role of coming out in the middle of the play and connecting the audience with the rest of the play. In practice, Maru would’ve smoothly transitioned the play into the next scene.

‘But on stage, he was definitely different. That’s what messed up the play.’

Maru actually articulated more and gestured better during practice, he was perfectly aligned with what they had in plan. He didn’t miss a single comma, and none of his lines were spoken wrong.

The Maru on stage was different. There was no rhythm to his lines. He seemed a little bit too energetic. In some parts, he was a little lacking in breath. His movements were untimely in some areas, and his walking posture was very unlike his character.

‘He didn’t act like he was supposed to during practice. He probably doesn’t realize it though.’

When she asked the boy a few minutes ago, he said he acted the same as he always did. But he was clearly different in Miso’s eyes.

‘It’s like watching a robot puppy and a real puppy.’

Life. On stage, Maru blew life into his character. Something that no novice should even be capable of, the audience was what made that possible for him. Maru turned out to have an incredible talent for integrating the energy from the audience with his own. Miso became sure of that today.

‘Maybe Junmin thought highly of Maru because of this.’

That day at the cafe, Junmin saw Maru from the eyes of an audience. Then, he formed a contract. Miso didn’t know the specifics, but she knew that this was a very different contract compared to Junmin’s usual ones.

If there was one thing an actor did, it was practice. Every actor practiced with their teeth gritted and got on stage. Despite that, only a select few become stars. The rest have to either keep working or just leave the stage entirely.

If everyone practiced the same amount, their difference in skill would be determined by talent. The best talent that an actor could have wasn’t the ability to read, nor was it the ability to act well. It was the ability to transform an audience’s energy into their own. Those kinds of actors never got exhausted. As long as there were audiences and a stage, they would always shine.

“If only we had more time.”

“No, this isn’t an issue of time. You can’t fix something like this with just practice. Depending on what kind of experience he has, he can improve by leaps and bounds in one day, or he might stay at this level forever.”

“True, that.”

Miso listened to her two friends talk. The rest of the club was resting after organizing all of their props back in the auditorium. Miso wanted to hear what her friends thought before telling the kids about today. In the end, these two were talking about one thing.

Han Maru.

The boy had an ability to shine on stage, but right now, it wasn’t enough. That shine of his was messing up the rest of the play.

“If only he had enough charisma to just shake up the entire play.”

“I mean, there’d be no worries at all, then. Miso would probably be showering him with kisses right now, too, if that were the case.”

“Kisses my ass.”

Miso frowned when her friends turned to look at her.

“Don’t you remember what happened in high school? You tried to kiss all of us when we got first place.”

Geunsoo shivered in horror.

“Ugh! Talk about stuff like that somewhere else.”

Miso pinched Geunsoo’s lips lightly, his expression sending her a playful smile.

“Well, in the end, you’re their instructor. You have to make a decision. Will you press him down, or will you let him run wild?”

“This play definitely had an effect on him, don’t you think?”

“The boy probably doesn’t realize it, but yeah.”

“This is concerning. What do you think, Mr. Maru’s tutor?” Miso asked Ganghwan.

“If we’re just talking about the boy alone, there’s no need to press him down.”

“But what about in a play? That takes place in a month?”

“If we can’t raise the skill level of everyone else, we should just focus on pressing him down. The other kids probably noticed already, too. Though they all probably felt different things.”

“Hm.”

“Shouldn’t we hear what the kids have to say about it first? We might be overestimating them right now.”

Geunsoo gestured towards the club members at the other end of the auditorium. Miso nodded. If the kids didn’t feel anything from this play, the problem could be solved very easily.

“Get over here!”

The club ran over immediately after she shouted towards them, and stood in a single-file.

“Man, how much did you work these kids?”

“Yeah, it’s almost like they’re in a military.”

Miso ignored what the two men behind him were saying before looking at the expressions of the kids. They didn’t look so bad. Then again, they were just talking to each other casually just now. She didn’t know how much of the play they understood, but generally speaking, they all looked happy enough.

“Good work so far. You didn’t make any mistakes. I told you to perform just as well as you do in practice, so how dare you just go and do better?”

“Hehe.”

The kids looked at her embarrassedly. Well, all except the one guy looking at her like he was telling her to get on with it.

‘He’s just not cute.’

Miso cleared her throat.

“Overall, you guys did pretty well. But I’d like to hear how you felt about the play today. Be honest, anything’s fine.”

The kids looked at each other confusedly. Usually, after a play, Miso would tell them to do a run to show them they did wrong. Instead, she was just asking them for their thoughts right away.

“I’m going straight to your thoughts because you did well.”

“Ah, yes.”

Of course, this was a lie. To the director, this play was a mess. Every actor did their jobs to the best of their abilities, but they didn’t mesh together at all. Overall, a disappointment.

“President, you go first.”

“Mm… I liked everything. We didn’t make mistakes, and it was pretty fun. I loved seeing the audience smile, too.”

“Really? You liked everything?”

“Yes.”

“Let’s change the question, then. What was one thing that you felt was lacking in this play?”

“What?”

“Give me a review. Talk to me in the shoes of a director. What did you think about the play? The acting?”

Miso crossed her arms and narrowed her eyes.

“Be honest with me. Did you like the play today? Just because you didn’t make any mistakes? Really?”

She said what she wanted to say, and the resulting effect was pretty immediate. She noticed several kids stiffen up.

‘There’s no way they didn’t feel what I felt.’

Miso waited. After a few seconds, Yoonjung started talking again after biting her lip.

* * *

Maru didn’t know what he had to say. This was the first time in this life when he felt troubled by a situation. The gazes the club members were giving him were odd, and a little bit confusing to try to understand.

“That’s what some of the club members felt. What do you think, Maru?”

“I don’t know. I don’t enjoy mincing my words, so I’ll be direct. What do you want from me, instructor?”

The acting club didn’t practice just to have fun, they were practicing to win at the winter competition; to get first place. In that regard, Miso was like a captain of a ship. She needed to make sure that the ship was clear to set sail without issues.

After listening to the club members’ feedback, Miso played a recording of the play today. Looking at the play from the perspective of the audience helped Maru understand what was happening.

‘The scenes all changed immediately after I went.’

The students that went after him acted a little more energetically as he did. That in itself wasn’t an issue, but this effect didn’t extend into the scenes that followed. That messed up the harmony of the actors just a little bit. The play quickly found its balance and continued on normally afterward, but this messed up the audience’s ability to be able to concentrate.

A good analogy would be like having other noises get mixed into the music you listen to. Indeed, Maru noticed the audience talking about other things whenever the play got unharmonious. They became completely unable to focus.

“Become calm. Even more so than when you practice. That’s the advice I’m going to give you.”

“Is that how we can make our play more complete?”

“A little more than before, yes.”

“I understand. I get what you’re trying to say.”

Miso nodded.

* * *

Tssss.

“I don’t think I can eat.”

“Me neither.”

The club members just dumbly watched as the meat cooked on the grill in front of them. After Miso gave her little spiel, Geunsoo and Ganghwan each gave short lectures. Afterward, Miso dragged everyone to a karaoke. That was 5pm, and they only managed to leave at 9pm. After spending four whole hours in a karaoke, everyone was understandably drained.

“Hey, hey! The meat’s about to burn! Go on and eat, you idiots!”

The scary part was, Miso didn’t look even a bit tired despite singing more than anyone else. Maru shook his head as he flipped a few pieces of meat on the grill.

“Hey, let’s talk.”

Right as he was about to take a bite of the food, Ganghwan called Maru outside. Maru handed the lettuce wrap in his hand off to Dojin before heading outside.

“Are you disappointed?”

“About what?”

“About what Miso said. She was telling you to kill your acting.”

“I mean, what she said makes sense. Harmony comes foremost before anything else. I think the instructor was making the right decision. And to be honest… I don’t even know why I should be disappointed. I think I was just doing the same thing as usual.”

“You could hear all the sounds around you on stage, right?”

“Yes.”

“You could hear the audience talking, and you could hear your footsteps.”

“Right.”

“That’s the difference between you and the rest of the club. It’s a small one, but it’s a difference nonetheless. If you managed to get a bigger reaction from the audience, the rest of the club would’ve wanted to follow in your footsteps today. If that were the case, the play would’ve gone a lot differently.”

“So I’m just being iffy.”

“Yeah. You’re not doing ridiculously well, but you’re still having an impact nonetheless. That impact changes the way other people act. There’s a difference between those who were impacted by you and those who weren’t. Then there’s you. it’s like noticing a few rough edges on a smooth piece of fabric.”

“Either make the entire piece of fabric rough to begin with, or press down those few rough edges. Is that it?”

“That’s right. After all, what matters, in the end, is how well you get reactions from the audience. Miso needs to show results as a director, and you need to show results after signing that contract with Junmin.”

“So do I need to act more like a robot in the future, in that case?”

“No.”

“What?”

“That’d only be the case if you can’t grow. But if you grow enough to be able to influence the entire club, there would be no need to press you down at all.”

Ganghwan poked Maru’s chest lightly.

“Let’s turn you into something amazing. If we can’t, we can just go along with Miso’s wishes. If we can… pft, things will get pretty interesting.”

Ganghwan smiled mischievously, and Maru remembered that smile. Ganghwan smiled like that when he told Maru to act like a blind person. Just what was he planning right now?

“Let’s try seeing just what that talent of yours is capable of. We won’t be able to do much in just a single month, but we might as well try. Try hard in your youth, or something like that. Hard enough to puke.”

Puke? Wasn’t that going a little too far?

“Oh, I’m also curious about this one thing.”

“About what?”

“The play. Was it fun?”

Fun? Maru found himself smiling almost subconsciously.

“It wasn’t bad.”

Right. It wasn’t bad. Actually, it was even a bit exciting.

“Hah! Nice! Let’s go back in. Free meat always deserves attention.”

Ganghwan slapped Maru’s back energetically. Maru nodded, and followed him back into the restaurant.

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