༺ Starting from 1% ༻
“Seon-Ho, what image comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘serial killer’?”
“Uh, what? Uh… well… I guess there’s madness in their torn eyes, dark circles, um, and… unkempt hair that covers their eyes? Something like that, I guess?”
Seon-Ho stuttered in response to the unexpected question.
“Is that so?”
With that, Yoomyeong closed his mouth and the movie soon began. This film, which reconstructed the true crime story of ‘The Martian Serial Killings,’ was a work that Seon-Ho had been highly anticipating.
The 132-minute running time flew by in an instant.
As the credits rolled following the ending with a close-up shot of the lead actor, Seon-Ho finally unclenched his tightly balled fist.
“Did you enjoy it?”
“Yes! Totally. The directing, the acting, wow…”
“Who do you think the culprit is?”
“Well, I don’t know… Park Hae-il? I couldn’t find any proof, but there could be a twist, right?”
“Well, let’s put the actual identity of the culprit aside. Wouldn’t you feel strange if Park Hae-il was the culprit?”
“No? I’d think, ‘It was him after all!’ Ah…”
Only then did Seon-Ho realize the meaning of the question that Yoomyeong had thrown at him before the movie.
It was about the prototype of a serial killer.
“Seon-Ho, there’s no such thing as a mismatched role. There are only roles that can’t be digested.”
Leaving the engrossed Seon-Ho behind, Yoomyeong walked out.
It was 1 AM, right after the movie ended. The dawn air in May was refreshing.
Yoomyeong bought two beers at a nearby convenience store and sat down at a table placed outside the door. Seon-Ho followed him and sat down slowly.
“What’s the name of President Nam’s subordinate number 2?”
“He’s named Lee Cheol-seung.”
“Why did Lee Cheol-seung join under President Nam?”
“He had no skills or education and had no other way to earn a living, I think…”
“What did he do before that?”
“Why couldn’t he learn?”
“What does he think about President Nam?”
“Oh, well… a scoundrel who appears polished on the surface but is pitch-black on the inside…”
Seon-Ho remembered that Yoomyeong was playing President Nam and subtly glanced at him.
Yoomyeong continued with his questions, unfazed.
“Isn’t he a scoundrel himself? Why does Cheol-seung criticize President Nam internally? Does he still have some moral conscience? What about his relationship with subordinate number 1? What does he really think of Kim Cheolsu?”
The calm stream of questions stung.
— An actor taking on a role should understand the life of that role to an extent where they can portray it.
It was something the seniors often said.
He thought he had done just that and created a backstory. For a minor role, his story was very detailed. However, Yoomyeong’s questions were much more detailed.
Had he not seen the old, tattered script, one might think that Yoomyeong was needlessly nitpicking him.
“Start with 1%.”
“The 1% similarity between you and the role. There must be at least one aspect where you think you are alike, isn’t there?”
Seon-Ho thought carefully.
“Uh… I think he and I have a soft heart.”
“In what way?”
“In this scene, subordinate number 1 and 3 lynches Kim Cheolsu while subordinate number 2 watches from behind. In this part, I think Cheol-seung might have felt some compassion for Kim Cheolsu. He couldn’t stop them, but he didn’t want to beat him either, so he chose to just watch. That’s what I think.”
“Oh, that’s a compelling interpretation. It’s remarkable that you read so much into such a short line.”
A blush appeared on Seon-Ho’s face.
It was the first praise he had ever received. The praise of a senior he admired uplifted the heart of the young actor.
“Good. Once you’ve empathized a bit with the role, you can gradually expand your horizon. Building upon the points you can relate to, add your imagination. What else is there?”
“He seems to be short and small in stature, so I think he might have a complex about it. It could have been sublimated into a desire for recognition and aggression?”
“Right. And what else?”
The character analysis continued for a long time.
The conversation concluded only around dawn, and despite staying up all night, Seon-Ho’s face was beaming.
“That’s right. That’s your Cheol-seung. You don’t need to force yourself to broaden your shoulders or deepen your voice. You just need to ‘wear a convincing outfit.’ Got it?”
Seon-Ho looked at Yoomyeong with eyes full of admiration.
“But it seems like it wasn’t the first time you saw ‘Memories of Murder’?”
“I think I’ve seen it about twenty times or so…?”
Seon-Ho burst into laughter as if the statement was preposterous, and Yoomyeong turned around with a wave of his hand.
The sound of footsteps playfully chasing after him was light.
“Why does that guy talk back so much to the boss’s orders?”
“Should we take him down a notch?”
“We can’t do that without the boss’s permission.”
The rehearsal room.
It was a scene where the trio of henchmen were plotting mischief.
Park Hansang felt strangely uncomfortable today. He kept getting the impression that Joo Seon-Ho’s acting was off.
‘He seems to have made an effort to improve his acting, but he’s lost his way.’
He pushed down his discomfort and thought that he should say a word or two to Seon-Ho as his senior once the scene rehearsal ended.
However, the directing team had a different idea.
“Seon-Ho, your acting was pretty good today.”
“Right? I thought the same. Seon-Ho, did you change something?”
“Yes. I think I have been thinking about it in the wrong way.”
“What do you mean?”
“I was trapped in the stereotype of a thug or a gangster and couldn’t bring the character to life in a multidimensional way. There’s no need to have three henchmen if they’re all the same.”
Jun-han wore a satisfied expression.
The boy who had been stumped until yesterday now felt vibrant with newfound clarity.
This was why teaching a first-time actor had its own charm. The sudden transformations were exhilarating.
“I noticed that you were giving Underling 1 a nasty look just now. Was there a reason?”
“Yes. Underling 2 has some sense of ethics. So, I set it up to despise Underling 1, who is a born scum.”
The face of the “born scum” crumpled.
“Hmm. What is the basis for this setting?”
“Acts 2, Scenes 2, 6, and 7. If you look at the scenes where the henchmen appear, Underling 2 is always standing one step back. He doesn’t use rough language often, and he tends to avoid immoral acts. I had thought it was because Underling 2’s character wasn’t clear until now, but I realized that it could actually signify a distinct character.”
“Wow. Seon-Ho, you’ve grown a lot. Did you come to all these realizations on your own?”
Seon-Ho hesitated at Jun-han’s question. Last night, Yoomyeong had told him something.
— If someone asks who helped you, say that you did it alone.
Turning his head, which had unconsciously turned to one direction, Seon-Ho softly replied.
“Yes. I did it alone…”
However, Cheol-joo had caught that fleeting look.
He shot an annoyed glance in that direction. It was Shin Yoomyeong ‘again’.
“Wow. Director! Did you see the text that just came from the Planning Director?”
“No? What is it?”
[We won rock-paper-scissors! Oedipus is on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and we are on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday!]
Cheol-joo relaxed for the first time in a while.
The good news was that they had managed to secure the latter dates for the final week of May’s festival.
“That’s a relief. It’ll be tough to set the stage from Wednesday night to Thursday afternoon, but it’s still a hundred times better to have the latter performances.”
“Of course. Now we can go ahead with printing the posters and tickets.”
After a brief moment of celebration, they dove back into serious discussion.
[Final Script Fix Meeting]
The script modified in today’s directorial meeting would become the final script.
During this process, actors who couldn’t act well would have their parts significantly reduced, making it a meeting feared by everyone as they awaited the results.
“In Act 3, Scene 2, Underling 1 resists the boss’s order to handle Kim Cheolsu. Wouldn’t it make more sense for Underling 2 to do that?”
“Are you suggesting that we give Hansang’s lines to Seon-Ho?”
“After all, that content wasn’t in the original script. We added it because Hansang’s acting was somewhat better, but today, I noticed that Seon-Ho has improved a lot. It also fits his character better.”
“I’m not sure about that.”
“Underling 2 was always a slightly different type of thug, right? That’s why Seon-Ho was cast for the role. I thought it would be a lost cause, but he even figured that out on his own. Isn’t that impressive?”
At these words, Cheol-joo’s face crumpled.
“He didn’t do that on his own.”
“Shin Yoomyeong was involved. Didn’t you see Seon-Ho turn his head when I asked him if he figured it out by himself?”
“Did he? Even if he did, so what? It’s common for seniors to help with character development.”
“But he’s not a senior.”
Cheol-joo’s vague words made Jun-han ask.
“Shin Yoomyeong is from the year ’00, and Joo Seon-Ho is from ’02. That makes him a senior, right?”
“No. It’s his first time acting, too. He’s not in a position to teach his debut mate.”
‘Oh god, this guy again…’
Jun-han let out a deep sigh.
He knew that Cheol-joo was a bit rigid, but not to this extent. Anything related to Shin Yoomyeong seemed to make him defensive.
There didn’t seem to be any personal issues between the two.
If so, the reason for Cheol-joo’s attitude was probably…
Jealousy and wariness.
Having monopolized the lead role in most productions, Cheol-joo was evidently hostile to Shin Yoomyeong, who appeared to be a rising star that might outshine him.
The sharp-eyed Jun-han noticed it.
‘He would neither realize nor acknowledge this…’
Suppressing his irritation, Jun-han tried to reason with Cheol-joo.
“Even if Yoomyeong helped, he’s a novice, just like you said. He was probably just discussing it with his fellow debut-mate. Isn’t it commendable that they’re working hard like that?”
“You’re the director. Don’t sweat the small stuff and look at the big picture. You know that Seon-Ho suits that scene better when you consider their character’s coherence.”
Indeed, Jun-han was like a mother (assistant director) in this situation.
He gently persuaded his eldest son (director), who was wearing the title of a father, and successfully pushed his opinion through.
Joo Seon-Ho’s lines increased by four.
The problem was what came next:
“We need to reduce the weight of President Nam’s role.”
“Every time Kim Cheolsu confronts President Nam, he gets overshadowed. I’ve told him several times to tone it down, but he won’t change. This is a negative influence on the flow of the play, don’t you agree?”
Jun-han rubbed his head.
“He’s doing his role pretty well.”
“Matching the lead actor is also part of an actor’s skills. Is standing out alone considered good acting?”
“In this play, President Nam is the most ideologically opposed to the lead, Kim Cheolsu. The theme becomes more emphasized when President Nam is properly portrayed as the villain. If the lead actor appears overshadowed when confronting him, shouldn’t we work on enhancing the lead character rather than killing off President Nam’s character?”
“We only have three weeks left. Do you think that’s possible?”
“Wow. Choi Cheol-joo, why are you like this? I’m about to be disappointed in you.”
“What? What did you just say?”
The atmosphere froze instantly.
“Do you remember what you told me when you asked me to join the directorial team? You told me not to worry about the petty traditions and create the best production together, didn’t you? Why are you acting like this toward Shin Yoomyeong?”
“I’m just looking at the overall balance. Did I say anything wrong?”
“It’s not wrong to aim for a safe play instead of a remarkable one. But he’s doing well. Why are you trying to bring down someone who’s doing well to maintain balance? Wasn’t creating a good play rather than a safe one that avoids criticism our ultimate goal?”
Cheol-joo gritted his teeth slightly.
Jun-han was an assistant director who usually complied with the director’s intentions. Or rather, he was the type of actor who pretends to be, but later changes the outcome.
It was the first time that he had taken such a firm stance.
He softened his expression a bit.
“Then try it. If it doesn’t work, you’re responsible for balancing it.”
With a reluctant compromise, the meeting that day came to an end.
And after three weeks, the festival began.
KAIST Spring Festival Theatre Performance at Betty Hall.
May 26th to 28th [Hamlet] by the College of Arts and Drama Club, <Oedipus>
May 29th to 31st [Ambitious Dream] by the Central Drama Club, <Changcheon>
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