Aura of a Genius Actor Chapter 20

Chapter 20 - The Ultimate Performance

༺ The Ultimate Performance ༻





  The staff swirled the brush at an invisible speed. Smearing messy black paint all over the skin, they created dark circles under the eyes. To the side, other staff members were on standby, holding tattered costumes.


  {Miho! Miho! Hey!}




  Miho, who had been unresponsive so far, finally answered.


  {Don’t call me during the show. It breaks my immersion.}


  {Hey! What the hell are you doing—?}


  {I’m just fulfilling the contract. Once the performance is over, everything will return to normal. Just wait a bit.}


  {No, at least you should explain—}


  {As you can see, the show is in 30 minutes. Just stay quiet for a while. It’ll be a good reference for you too.}


  And then Miho closed its mouth again.


  Yoomyeong exerted his utmost will to try to move his fingertips, but they didn’t budge at all.


  Fear started to arise when his body wouldn’t move according to his will.




  He finally admitted it.


  There was nothing he could do right now. He had no choice but to wait until the performance was over, as Miho had said.


  For the first time, a sense of caution rose within him against Miho, or rather, the acting spirit inside him.




  The audience began to enter. The entrance BGM played.


  “What should I do…? I’m so nervous that I forgot my lines.”


  The actors fidgeted. 




  Standing in front of the mirror, Miho shivered as if it was cold.


  Tick— Tick—


  The intermittent trembling of the body ceased at some point, then he raised his head to look at the mirror in the dressing room. Through his open field of vision, Yoomyeong met the eyes of his unfamiliar self.


  A pair of horribly numb eyes stared at him as if he were an inanimate object. The gaze was like that of a beast staring at its prey, and Yoomyeong shivered with an unknown premonition.




  “The judges have taken their seats—”


  “Act 1, Scene 1 actors in pockets, standby!”




  Finally, the performance began.


  The 200-seat theater was a little over half full. Due to the reputation of the Hyejeondang, most theatrical productions tend to sell out, but <Perfume> was clearly not an anticipated work.


  The audience had a look of light expectation rather than high hopes, just wishing that it would be above par.


  But then.




  The moment an actor appeared in Act 1, Scene 2, the audience was enveloped in a strange tension.


  A hunched back, a limping walk. The man seemed infinitesimally small despite not having a small frame.


  The audience felt an uncomfortable sensation just by his entrance. It was as if they wanted to leave the theater right away. They had a feeling that something that shouldn’t exist was right before their eyes. 


  However, their discomfort was nothing compared to what Yoomyeong felt.


  ‘This… what is this?’


  His body was hijacked, but the sensations he felt were just the same.


  The feeling of the breath spreading through his lungs, causing his chest to swell, the discomfort of walking with a hunched back. The spirit that had entered his body allowed him to perceive what it was feeling, and even the emotions that were boiling up inside it.


  {I’ve opened your senses. Watch closely.}


  And then the first line of dialogue burst out.




  The audience thought.


  ‘I don’t know who he is, but his acting is exceptional.’ 


  However, the more remarkable it was, the more uncomfortable it became. Was it really a human? 


  A feeling of discomfort crawled up on them. It was as if a crustacean that was wearing human skin was in front of them. It was too much, to the point of making them angry.


  But why?


  At some point, the audience found themselves drawn to this unsettling character. 


  While they still could not understand the inner world of this character intellectually, their hearts were feeling his emotions.


  Especially in the second act where he climbed the mountain to avoid human smell, the audience became puzzled.


  Watching Grenouille become more and more satisfied with a scentless environment, what crossed their minds was…


  ‘It would be nice if it ended here. What a happy ending it would be…’


  For them, it would have been unimaginable that a scentless environment could be a happy ending.


  The strange sense of empathy grew stronger. They could even understand Grenouille’s feelings of obsession with the fragrant human.


  If Laure Richis was in front of them, they would have wanted to strangle her together, press their noses into her skin, and smell her. 


  When the notorious murderer killed Laure Richis and managed to escape, the audience was overjoyed by the pleasure that ‘that perfume’ could now be made.




  Some conservative members of the audience would later blame themselves, saying, ‘I must have gone mad! Why did I have such thoughts?!’ But at that moment, even such self-criticism was impossible because they were completely enchanted by the character of Grenouille. 


  If the audience felt that way, Yoomyeong, who shared the senses within his body, couldn’t describe his feelings. 


  Inside his body, the grotesque murderer and the strange creature who didn’t know human emotions, Grenouille, was breathing together with him.


  ‘Is it a possession, like in the case of Freddie? No… Grenouille is a character from a novel.’


  That was right.


  Regardless of those reasons, this was definitely the ‘spirit’.


  Yoomyeong had a reason why he was sure this was the spirit. It was…




  At the bottom of Grenouille’s senses, he faintly felt the acting spirit’s emotion.


  It was joy. The pure joy of a being that had accumulated thousands of years of existence was akin to the joy of a young child. 


  The unbearable joy of a being who finally stood in front of the audience with a body capable of acting and its own role.


  In that pure joy, there was no cheat code. Sharing the same body, Yoomyeong could clearly feel that the acting spirit was not using its ‘powers’.


  ‘If this is really acting, then this is the ultimate acting…’


  It simply exceeded the range of acting a human could do.


  The spectators in the audience were half-dazed.  


  They were no longer just audience members but had become part of the atmosphere within the story.


  That couldn’t be helped. After all, this was a violently beautiful stage that grabbed the gaze of the viewers and dragged them along.


  Yoomyeong’s mind trembled.


  Fear, envy, jealousy, awe.


  Everything became intertwined and jumbled, yet Yoomyeong didn’t flinch. He gritted his teeth and thought, ‘One day, I will act like this too!’


  Perhaps it was because… he also had 15 years of exceptional hardships.






  The lights in the audience turned on.


  There was no applause. The audience was too overwhelmed and exhausted to even applaud after the performance.  


  “Uh? Is…is it over?”


  It was only when someone finally uttered these words that the icy silence in the audience shattered with a clink.


  “Who…who’s that actor?”


  “Call the director!”


  When the judges and the other members of the theater troupes finally regained their senses and searched behind the stage, they only found the stunned members of the Haeundae Theater Troupe.


  “We don’t know either. There was an accident during the day and the role was urgently recast, but… he disappeared as soon as the performance was over.”


  “What? Does that make sense? Who introduced him?”


  “The lighting technician at Hyejeondang…”


  The aforementioned lighting technician was consistent in playing dumb. The answer that came back was that he was just a visitor during the day and he had simply helped him watch the rehearsal because he had a great passion for acting. 


  The increasingly anxious representatives looked for the recorded footage.


  “What? You didn’t record it?”


  “They said we only needed to film the reputable troupes. Do you want the tape from the daytime performance?”


  “No need! What kind of job is done this way?!”


  “We just followed instructions…”


  The theater association was in turmoil.


  It was a single performance by a local theater troupe with an audience of just around 100 people. Moreover, the performance was given by an understudy actor whose name wasn’t even on the list and was now nowhere to be found.


  Assumptions were made that he would have been a seasoned actor with such acting prowess. However, the number of people who saw his bare face without makeup was extremely small, and they unanimously claimed that they had never seen this actor before.


  Normally, this would have been dismissed as no big deal. 


  However, the judges who had actually seen the performance were fiercely opposing this.


  “If that performance is invalidated, then I’m going to boycott my role as a judge.”


  “Same here. I don’t want to be recorded in posterity as a ‘blind servant’ who ‘failed to recognize that acting’.”


  Meanwhile, reviews of the performance were rapidly being posted on the theater association’s bulletin board, and requests for a re-performance were pouring in.


  [<Perfume> Review: I can’t forget the sense of immorality that I felt that day.]


  └Re: I request a re-performance of ‘Perfume’ by Haeundae Theater Troupe.


  └Re: Please, I beg you. I bought a ticket but didn’t go because of some bad reviews, and I’m going crazy reading these reviews.


  └Re: Re: You bought it and didn’t go? I feel sorry for you. It was the work of my life.


  └Re: It was heavenly acting. I will attend all shows if there is a re-performance.


  └Re: Re: I heard that the lead actor was an understudy and that his whereabouts are now unknown. Is it true?


  In the end, the Grand Prize of that year’s National Theater Festival was left vacant, and <Perfume> made a small name for itself in the Audience Popularity Award.


  And when it came to the Best Acting Award, the host made an unusual announcement.


  “The Best Acting Award goes to Cheon Sang-yeon—”


  There was no actor named Cheon Sang-yeon. However, everyone knew who they were referring to. 


  Flashes burst at the empty podium where no one came up. The hands of the reporters were busy.


  “There is an actor who brought a huge whirlwind to the National Theater Festival with just one performance. Theater fans call this unidentified actor Cheon Sang-yeon, which means a heavenly actor. 


  While his whereabouts are currently unknown, we await the day when this actor returns to the Korean theater world. The 19th National Theater Festival’s Best Acting Award is presented to the unknown actor, Cheon Sang-yeon.”


  Thus, a legend by the name of Cheon Sang-yeon was written.


  This legend stirred up the theater world, but no one was able to uncover his identity for a long time.




  “Thank you, brother. I unintentionally interfered, but I didn’t want to stir up a fuss.” 


  {What did you do to make everyone go crazy? Isn’t it a good thing to get attention from people in the theater?}


  “I’ll tell you later. Thank you for today!”


  Yoomyeong snapped the flip phone shut and frowned.


  “What the hell is this?”


  {What’s wrong?}


  “We may have made a deal, but why did you suddenly take off and took control of my body without any explanation?”


  {There wasn’t time to explain. Besides, I was being considerate in my own way. It’s not like I possessed you while you were Freddie or President Nam.}


  “Then why did you make strange remarks about being a genius? It’s a good thing that they didn’t notice that it was me, but what if they had?”


  {How would you explain being able to memorize a script in 10 minutes?}


  “Something like ‘I’ve seen the script before.’”


  {That was an original script.}




  Miho spoke pitifully in response to the glaring Yoomyeong, its fox ears drooping.


  {I’ve only ever watched acting, so I wanted to try it.}




  It was a strike.


  Yoomyeong reacted to the comment about wanting to try acting.

  Who knew better than him about the desperate desire to stand on the stage?


  “You… wanted to try acting that much?”


  {Yeah. I chose to be an acting spirit because I was drawn to acting.}


  “Was this your first time acting?”


  {Nope. I’ve done it a few times through deals. This time, it’s been about 100 years…}


  “Your acting… It was amazing.”


  {Hehe. The fox lineage naturally has a knack for beguiling people. I’ve been watching acting for a thousand years.}


  “I see. So, do you want to… possess me and act more…?”


  Yoomyeong casually tossed out the question.


  It was a loaded question. He wouldn’t want to experience losing control of his body again.


  Miho carefully chose a truth that would reassure Yoomyeong.


  {As I said before, the contracts of the spirit world are strict. The possession deal happened once and now it’s gone. If you don’t want to be possessed, don’t make that deal next time.}


  “…Alright, I got it.”


  On that day, Yoomyeong felt a sense of wariness about the ‘acting spirit’ and ‘contracts’ for the first time. 


  However, the reason Yoomyeong didn’t probe further was because Miho’s words, ‘it’ll be a good reference’, were correct.


  Before him, who had aimed for Everest with all his might, Olympus, an unattainable peak for humans, appeared. 


  An ultimate form of acting, infinitely close to the ideal for an actor.


  Rather than thinking that it would have been better if he hadn’t seen it, Yoomyeong, a passionate actor with great ambitions, further heightened his goals. Having encountered such an impressive performance would serve as great fertilizer for his growth as an actor.


  Today, Yoomyeong was given a goal, albeit with a dim prospect of reaching it.


  ‘Although I’m not there yet, someday…’


  Yoomyeong tightly clenched his fists.







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Aura of a Genius Actor

Aura of a Genius Actor

Score 9.99
Status: Completed Native Language: Korean
[Winner of the 5th Korea Web Novel Contest] He cast his very being into a life of acting, only to go unrecognized.   But now, his life begins anew


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