༺ The Power of 1,321 Roles ༻
“I love you.”
In an instant, the actor’s face brimmed with emotion.
It was the face of a man unable to contain his love for the person before him.
Yoomyeong took a step closer.
“I know it might be too soon considering that this is only our third meeting, but… will you marry me?”
An overwhelming confession spilled out.
From the face of the youth who appeared impetuous yet simple and innocent, a storm-like joy mixed with intense affection flowed.
Jun-han, who had directed the scene and was momentarily stunned, regained his composure and clapped his hands.
“Mom? Can you recognize me?”
The atmosphere suddenly shifted.
Now, it was a hospital room. Judging from his posture as he looked down, it was evident that someone was lying in the bed. Yoomyeong lowered his gaze to meet the eyes of the person who was lying down on the bed.
“Wow. My mom is making eye contact with me today. It’s been a few months.”
A beam of joy burst forth from his face that was consumed by profound sorrow.
The joy was so desperate when his mother, who had become childlike and failed to recognize him, made eye contact with him after several months. This raw joy which mingled with a hint of hope seeped into his lines.
‘Wow. How does he manage to shift his emotions so rapidly? It’s insane…’
Suhyun was amazed. And that sentiment resonated with the actors who were watching Yoomyeong.
In fact, no one surpassed Yoomyeong when it came to immersing himself emotionally in such a short time.
That was the nature of a supporting role.
Just a line or two of dialogue. A fleeting appearance. To perform authentically in that brief time, one had to swiftly immerse oneself in the role.
Of course, it was rare for a supporting actor or an extra to exert such effort. However…
15 years of acting experience.
A total of 1,321 roles.
Yoomyeong had tirelessly strived to faithfully portray the roles he was given, despite having no one who recognized his efforts.
“Wha… what is this? A… a lottery… jackpot?!”
“There are two pieces of kelp in this raccoon soup. Hehe.”
“Goal! It’s a goal!”
“My son ranks first in the whole school.”
Sometimes comical, sometimes tragic, sometimes romantic.
No matter how much Jun-han clapped, Yoomyeong’s various forms of ‘joy’ flowed endlessly.
Only when Jun-han raised his hand after the count surpassed twenty did Yoomyeong’s performance come to an end.
As Yoomyeong nodded his head and returned to his seat, everyone snapped back to reality as if waking up from a dream.
“Dude, you’re incredible, totally incredible.”
Amidst the clamor of the actors, Jun-han inquired.
“There were some familiar lines. Did you take them from actual scripts?”
That was right.
Yoomyeong had read over 1,000 scripts in 15 years.
There were roles he had acted in and roles he had longed to portray.
Therefore, if Jun-han had not cut him off, this task for Yoomyeong would have been never-ending.
“Some of them, yes.”
Yoomyeong held back his words, knowing that there were scripts from both the future as well as the present.
“How many scripts have you read? No, how did you remember them all?!”
“It has been my hobby to collect and read scripts since high school.”
That was the only explanation he could offer.
At his response, Jun-han clicked his tongue, and the actors were astounded by such a hobby.
“…As you see, even though they all fall under the umbrella of ‘joy’, if there are ten situations and ten characters, emotions can be expressed in 100 different shades. Do you all understand that…?”
Contrary to his intention, Jun-han concluded the unexpected turn of events, awkwardly praising the exemplary sample that had been showcased.
“Let’s do one more. Park Hansang.”
‘Ah, damn it…’
One person appeared upset.
After the rehearsal ended that day, Jun-han said to Cheol-joo.
“He truly is a genius! Ah, should we consider changing the roles now?”
“What are you talking about? That’s a done deal. Train him well until the next performance.”
“There’s nothing to nurture. He’s simply a prodigy, and I have been outperformed!”
“Ah~ You’re exaggerating again.”
Jun-han pounded his chest.
The other staff members had missed the scene he had witnessed due to a meeting about directing.
Jun-han, regretting not having recorded the scene with a camcorder, was frustrated to his core.
Gwanak University was famous for its picturesque campus.
The azaleas that adorned the hill behind the school had bloomed and withered, while the cherry blossoms that had scattered along the paths of the campus were now in full bloom, ready to fall.
Amidst all these flowers, there were busy individuals with no time to appreciate their beauty.
“Five minutes… just five minutes…”
“Didn’t you ask to be woken up promptly at 7 o’clock for practice?!”
A man whose hair looked like a bird’s nest let out a scream and quickly got up.
Midterm exams were approaching.
Even if his goal for the business studies exams was to avoid an F, Yoomyeong was struggling with only four hours of sleep a day due to the preparation for the Changcheon performance and the one-act play on Method Acting, which was scheduled for next week.
Yoomyeong, who had washed his face with cold water, picked up the script. The one-act play script was already worn out.
Yoomyeong had long established Freddie’s emotional trajectory, but acting was not just about immersing oneself in emotions. It required the skill to express those emotions.
“Ah… This is driving me crazy. Why did I write this part…?”
In this script, there were two important points where Freddie’s ego changes.
First was when he met Mary, where his inflated ego of a ‘boy’ obsessed with music sheds its skin and morphs into a ‘young man’ sincerely wanting empathy in love.
And the second, when his physical body which desired a man clashes with his ‘heterosexual’ ego, which firmly believed that he loved Mary, causing a state of confusion and a shift to a ‘homosexual’ ego.
This was known as the ‘turning transition.’
Since it was a one-act play, he could not rely on exits, entrances, or blackouts to signify the shifts.
So, Yoomyeong added a scene where, in about three seconds, he would slowly turn his body, allowing his expressions and actions to change in slow motion while the different egos overlapped.
He knew that it would be a challenging scene, but…
He hadn’t expected that he wouldn’t find the answer until the performance’s overture.
Yoomyeong, who was repeatedly practicing the same scene and sighing incessantly, was interrupted by Miho, who had been watching for a while.
“Do you want help?”
Yoomyeong looked at Miho with a desperate expression.
“I can help you improve your acting skills.”
“Nope! I refuse that.”
“I want to improve my acting through my own efforts. I know it might seem no different from using a cheat key to empathize with Freddie’s emotions… But I feel like I shouldn’t use a cheat key for the most crucial aspect, even if I lack the auxiliary skills.”
Miho was surprised by those words.
‘He’s surprisingly sharp.’
Miho then made another suggestion.
“Then, how about some advice that could genuinely be of assistance?”
He felt that advice was something he didn’t necessarily need to refuse. There was plenty of acting advice in the world, and whether he could digest it would depend on his acting abilities.
“But if I help, some of my energy will transfer to you once again.”
“Really? How much?”
“If I were to quantify it, about a presence of 2?”
Yoomyeong tilted his head.
He had received a moderate amount of presence, fearing that too much would interfere, but increasing it by 2 wouldn’t be a problem. However…
‘Why is it giving me presence in return for helping me? Both are beneficial for me.’
It was strange.
The basics of trade were ‘give and take’.
But he received presence both the first time and now as well… as if Yoomyeong was paying the price…
‘No. What kind of suspicions am I harboring?’
Yoomyeong brushed off his peculiar thoughts and made eye contact with Miho.
You have received the presence of the spirit fox.
〈 Presence 〉
Miho chirped satisfactorily as it held a handful of its own silver fur.
Yoomyeong watched with interest as the liquid that shimmered like melted silver formed a thin film.
“Show me the final expression of the boy Freddie.”
Yoomyeong briefly closed his eyes and immersed himself into the character in an instant, depicting the confident yet stubborn expression of young Freddie on his face.
This image was reflected on the silver film like a mirror.
“Okay. Now, make the first expression of young Freddie.”
Yoomyeong took a deep breath, inhaling and exhaling slowly.
At that moment, his eyebrows furrowed and his eyes narrowed. His mouth opened slightly.
It was the expression he had when he first met Mary, the posture and gesture of a boy transitioning to a young man.
Miho twitched both ears in satisfaction.
It then muttered towards the silver film.
“Extract Shot. Arrange, Left. Right, End.”
As those words fell, a snapshot of boy Freddie was captured and placed on the left, while young Freddie was placed on the right.
“Dissolve Montage. Five cuts.”
The two Freddies overlapped and then separated. Numerous frames extended, resulting in five distinct cuts.
His eyebrows lowered and his mouth opened by a fifth of a fraction with each cut.
The further to the left looked closer to the boy Freddie, while the further to the right looked closer to the face of the young Freddie.
Yoomyeong’s eyes widened.
“The initial and final expressions are completely different, so they don’t naturally transition. It’s easy to slowly transform from a neutral face to a smiling face, but it’s difficult to slowly change from a smiling face to a crying face because different muscles are used.”
The small bundle of fur precisely pinpointed the exact area that Yoomyeong had been contemplating while maintaining a meticulous expression.
“Try practicing so that you can visualize the intermediate steps of changing expressions and capture them as still shots. After memorizing the stills in your body, act in a way that allows the five-cut stills to return to their frames.”
Adding two cuts before and after, a total of seven stills floated above the silver film. The expressions frozen in 0.5 seconds per frame imprinted themselves vividly in his mind.
It was not a continuous movement but a series of still movements.
Yoomyeong got goosebumps.
“Why are you thanking me? We’re doing this for mutual benefit.”
Yoomyeong looked down at Miho, who was nonchalantly licking its paw. Having lived as an acting spirit for over a thousand years, Miho must’ve been a veteran in the field of acting…
This tiny spirit, which was often careless, shows an amazing ability once in a while.
Yoomyeong stood in front of the mirror with the silver film floating in front of him.
Then, he recreated the expression of the first still.
The slightly tensed muscles, stuck in a state of rest, trembled ever so slightly.
Everyone pushed their desks and chairs back in unison.
Today, this place was transformed into a stage.
The actors took one last look at their scripts, and the staff, standing next to them, tidied up their makeup and costumes. Their touch seemed very professional, probably because they were theater students.
Yoomyeong awkwardly adjusted a wig that reached his ears.
“Wow. Ryu Shin looks amazing!”
Mary, who had donned her wig and completed her makeup, walked and even gestured like a woman.
The teaching assistant, who was holding the camera to record today’s performance, was diligently taking pictures of Ryu Shin.
It seemed like he was treated like a star in the theater and film department.
The previously noisy classroom fell silent as the professor entered. He took a seat in the middle of the first row of desks pushed to the back of the room, placing a stopwatch on the table.
“Each team has 15 minutes for their performance. The preparation time between the end of one team’s performance and the start of the next is two minutes. Set up in advance and adhere to the designated time.”
“We’ll go in reverse order, starting with Group 5.”
Jae Pil did something unusual. He pushed Group 1’s performance to the very end.
Although he aimed to be fair as a professor, it was an unavoidable fact that Group 1’s performance was the most anticipated.
‘Whether they perform exceptionally well or turn into a comedy due to the chaos of role swapping, it could influence the subsequent performances.’
Jae Pil convinced himself that it was a decision made for the sake of fairness.
“We’re Group 5, and we’ve adapted <The Maids>. Let’s begin.”
Background music filled the room.
This group, consisting mostly of female students, had chosen a script where all characters were women with a male student taking on the lead role.
From the maid costumes prepared by everyone to their makeup, it was clear that they put in a significant amount of effort. However, the dialogue, which closely adhered to the style of 70s drama, was overly formal for method acting.
Jae Pil crossed his arms, leaned back, and watched the play.
— Group 4, who adapted and performed as household robots from the popular 00’s production <Bicentennial Man>.
— Group 3, where a female student played the role of a salesman in <Death of a Salesman>.
— Group 2, who replaced a puppet show with human acting.
Several other plays followed.
While Jae Pil watched the students’ passionate performances with a satisfied expression, in his mind, he meticulously analyzed and dissected every detail with the eyes of a critic.
“Group 1, <Love of His Life>. It’s an original play based on Freddie Mercury.”
The moment that everyone had been waiting for arrived.
Before the performance, the actor emerged to the center of the stage in advance, sat down on the floor, hugged his knees, and buried his head.
The play began and the music’s prelude played.
The man huddled on the stage slowly lifted his head.
The moment the first line was spoken,
Jae Pil straightened up from leaning against the back of his chair and leaned forward.
His previously content smile faded away.