Chapter 95

“I was very surprised when I heard about you from him.”

Junmin turned to look at Maru after glancing at Ganghwan. It was a surprise, to be sure. He did expect something out of Maru, the boy had talent. But just a few weeks ago, he was a bit lacking compared to acting students his age.

‘But his schedule honestly makes me want to tell him to take a break now.’

It wasn’t like Maru wasn’t studying, either. After all of his classes, he would go all the way to Anyang to study acting. Even on the weekends, he stuck around with Ganghwan to learn more. One could say Maru was just studying according to the money that was given to him, but Junmin could tell that Maru wasn’t doing all of this just for the money. That energy coming from Maru right now… that was passion. Something that money can’t buy.

“So you found your motivation, I see.”

“I learned the joy of being on stage.”

“Joy, huh. Good times.”

Right now, joy should be enough.

‘But what really makes people grow are trials.’

If Maru thought the stage was fun, it meant that Maru only saw the surface of what the stage truly was. As soon as the boy realizes what it really means to act professionally, and what it feels like when the character he’s acting no longer speaks to him… Acting won’t be a joy, it’ll be nothing but a burden.

But then again, only the prodigies ever got that far. Junmin believed that the difficulty of this trial scaled directly with the actor’s talent.

“So you were directing over here?” Maru asked, looking over the practice room one more time.

“It’s the first play of the theater, ever. The older actors recommended the actors themselves, and we held an audition to screen them. After all, the older generation knows that it’d be better to let the young start taking over.”

“You’re saying the same thing as Coach, I see.”

Ganghwan smiled upon hearing that, Junmin nodded. Creatures whose blood doesn’t flow would die. For the creature that was acting to live on, it needed blood to continue flowing. Those above Junmin put a lot of work into restoring this theater. To blow life into it was the younger generation’s task.

“You’re doing a little monodrama before plays?”

“Yes.”

“A script?”

“None. It’s kind of like conversing with the audience, rather than an actual play.”

As soon as Maru finished, Ganghwan jumped in.

“This kid is quite something, especially at acting the role of old men. It’s actually weird that he’s a high schooler.”

“I can understand that sentiment.”

Junmin didn’t know what kind of an environment Maru grew up in, but it couldn’t have been normal. To begin with, what kind of a high schooler would ask for 300 million won upfront? The boy clearly liked to bet when he knew he would win, almost like an experienced businessman on the negotiation table.

“By the way, why did you call me here today?”

“We decided to start a few programs with the opening.”

“Programs?”

“We’re trying to make plays a little more accessible. First, we’re starting off with tours of the backstage. Then, doing performances by amateur casts.”

There were a lot of ideas thrown around to spread the name of the Myungdong Art Theater, the most popular out of these turned out to be the backstage tour and the amateur performances.

“We’re going to select a few people to tour around, show them what the waiting room looks like, what the practice room and the actual backstage looks like, et cetera. Apparently these internet blogs are popular nowadays, right?”

“I know people do them, but I don’t know if they’re popular. Don’t most people use Cyworld or something?”

“We’re both bad with this tech stuff, so I guess it’s inevitable we wouldn’t know. What do you think?”

Maru scratched his eyebrows for a second before responding.

“Well, I am running a blog...”

“Is that so? That’s good. Try posting a blog post as an experiment. Take some pictures, too. It’ll be a good reference.”

“Is it okay for me to do it?”

“It’s an experiment, so it’s fine. If the tour is successful, we’re planning on making it permanent.”

“I understand.”

Junmin wrote down what he just said in his notebook.

“Also, the reason why I called you two… No, you, is because of the amateur plays.”

“You aren’t planning on making him participate, are you?” Ganghwan butted in.

Junmin nodded without hesitation.

“He won’t have much time.”

“This is for people of all ages in all sorts of professions. The catchphrase being ‘plays for the masses’, after all.”

“Even office workers? Scheduling this is going to be a mess, in that case.”

“We’re not trying to make them perform a perfect play. We just want to show people that anyone can take up acting. We’ll start recruiting next February, and start training in March. Hopefully have them perform in May.”

“So the reason why you called Maru is...”

Ganghwan put a hand over Maru’s shoulder, Junmin shook his head.

“I can’t just put Maru in there, since we’ll have a public audition. But this is also a trial in the end, so all we need right now is to see what the general public thinks about this. For now, we decided to recruit those who are freer than others. That is, acting students around Seoul. We’ll create two crews, one for high school and one for college.”

“Gaah! No way! This kid is going to get to perform in Myungdong Theater faster than me? No! I’m dead against it! No way! I can’t be doing worse than my junior when I’m still coaching him!”

There was playfulness in Ganghwan’s voice.

“Stop making dumb jokes. Anyway, you should know why I called you here, right?”

“You’re not telling me to coach the high schoolers, are you?”

“Bingo.”

“I have a job.”

“But you’re very free.”

“If I focus on one play...”

“I heard news about sightings of you in Hongdae.”

“...I’ll work harder.”

“It’s going to be difficult during the weekdays anyway, so you’ll just have to handle the weekends.”

“But… If we only have one month to prepare, wouldn’t the resulting play be a mess?”

“Again, we aren’t too worried about how good of a play this will be. We’re just trying to get the general public to participate. Plus, this is just a trial session. The audience will be aware of that as well. Lastly, this will be paired with the backstage tour, so we shouldn’t get many complaints about the play. The producers for this event aren’t stupid, so don’t worry too much.”

Ganghwan wasn’t able to dispute Junmin at this point, so he just sighed. Ganghwan was someone who focused incredibly well when he found a play that he liked. But at the same time, he was easily distracted if he wasn’t interested. What made it worse was that the man only found interest in controversial plays.

‘Hopefully he’ll change. After all, he knows better than anyone that tragedy isn’t everything in life.’

Ganghwan probably liked to act in these brutally real plays because he felt a need to portray reality. He might give softer, more relaxed plays a chance after satisfying himself to a point. The man was simply filled with talent, so he would easily be able to draw in a crowd at that point.

“So the fact I have to stick around with this kid doesn’t change?”

“Not at all.”

“I’ll do it, then.”

Ganghwan took up the offer immediately. Junmin turned to look at Maru.

“How much time would this take, for me?” Maru asked.

“We don’t have anything set in stone, but at least half the day for both Saturday and Sunday.”

“Wouldn’t this be a problem with the winter competition coming up?”

“Let me ask you instead. Are the lessons you’re taking difficult, at all? Enough for you to stay for the entire time?”

Maru thought for a second before shaking his head.

“Not really.” “There’s your answer, then. The winter competition is important for sure, but the opportunity to perform at the Myungdong Art Theater gives it a run for its money. Try to pace yourself, and see if you can succeed in both.”

“I understand.”

Maru gave in very fast as well. Ganghwan, who was too immature for his age, and Maru, who was too mature for his age… Indeed, it was a good idea to pair the two together.

‘The two of them should be good influences for each other.’

Hopefully, they both take from each other’s good sides.

“Ah! Right, senior!”

“Mm?”

“Did this kid really ask for 2 billion upfront?”

“He did.”

“And you promised him 300 million won?”

“I didn’t just promise him. I already gave the money.”

Ganghwan immediately turned to glare at Maru.

“You.”

“What?”

“Pay me back for lunch.”

As always, the man liked his immature jokes way too much. And…

“Here you go.”

The boy just seemed to go with it.

“Hahaha. What a great duo.”

Junmin smiled proudly.

* * *

“So this must be the path to the Myungdong Cathedral.”

“Wow.”

Bada took a look at the panel erected next to the uphill pathway. It had writings about the cathedral written on it, along with pictures from artists. The group slowly made their way uphill.

“Let’s take pictures.”

Even as they went back down, they took pictures. Bada took one herself, with the cathedral in the background. Unfortunately, the building didn’t fit that well on her camera screen.

“Where should we go next?”

The girls were excited at getting to play in Myungdong. Bada was no exception.

“I heard if you follow this path here, you’ll reach the Myungdong Art Theater. How about it? I heard it just opened, so we can go inside.”

“Theater? That sounds kind of boring.”

“Yeah, it’s boring. What about clothes shops instead?”

Bada stepped forward and started dragging her friends.

“Let’s go.”

Theater… She heard her brother talk about it a few times. He told her that theaters were fun places to visit. That they had a very different vibe compared to movie theaters.

“Well, if Bada wants to go, we should.”

“Let’s go.”

Bada’s three friends quickly changed their minds, and the group made their way down from the cathedral.

* * *

Soojin was nervous. She took a sip of coffee to try to calm herself, but it didn’t help.

Ah, maybe the caffeine would only make it worse?

She turned to look outside. She could see the Myungdong Art Theater, reborn with an outdoor stage. As she stared at the building, her phone vibrated with a new notification.

[Why don’t you try talking now?]

A message, from her father. Today, Soojin made up her mind and decided to meet him. It’s been ten years since she last went back home. She became independent upon graduating high school.

In reality, she was escaping. Out of apologetic feelings.

After fiddling around with her phone for a bit, she opened her phone. There was a call.

- We’re almost here. We’ll see you at that restaurant we used to go to.

It was her father. And…

- It’s been ten years since you saw Dowook as well, hasn’t it?

“...Yes.”

- ...Right, I’ll see you soon.

Soojin hung up and sighed. She was about to meet her brother after a full decade.

* * *

“Where are we meeting?”

“Myungdong cathedral, apparently?”

“Cathedral?”

“Dunno. She just told us to go there.”

Changhu took his two friends and walked to the Myungdong cathedral. Just thinking about playing around with that dumb lady had him excited.

“Is she pretty?”

“Kind of.”

“Good at drinking?”

“Dunno. I haven’t seen her get drunk yet.”

“I hope she goes out after just a shot.”

“The fuck? Girls like that don’t exist. She probably drinks more than you, bro.”

“Ugh, I guess fucking’s just a pipe dream at this point, then.”

“Just drink, you stupid fuck. Is fucking the only thing you can think about?”

The three of them arrived at the cathedral in high spirits.

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ensj's Thoughts

Hongdae is a popular clubbing area in Seoul.