༺ The Weight Of Selection ༻
“Hello, seniors and juniors. My name is Min Juran.”
Despite the tense atmosphere, Juran greeted everyone with a bright smile and took a seat on one of the chairs.
She scanned the faces of the attendees.
‘As expected, the only ones worth mentioning would be Seo Ryu Shin and Seon Yu-ri. Well, the most successful ones are busy with their professional activities.’
Then, she noticed an unfamiliar face behind Seo Ryu Shin.
‘I guess that’s Shin Yoomyeong. His style is… not bad, but he’s probably still an amateur… The main attraction here is Seo Ryu Shin, for sure.’
She steeled herself.
Her portfolio had to be impeccable. Even though it was highly likely that Seo Ryu Shin would get the lead role, she was prepared to step in if, by some chance, he didn’t.
She knew the nature of her colleague, Seon Yu-ri, very well. She was a perfectionist.
If she had liked the existing script, she wouldn’t have contacted her. Since she had already contacted her, the decision was in her hands.
Yu-ri began to speak again.
“As we have previously announced, we will start casting today. I believe you’ve all practiced with the script I sent you. Of course, today’s casting isn’t the end. True to Oedipus’s tradition, if you feel that you can do a particular role better, feel free to challenge even if we’re in the middle of the production.”
Oedipus’s rehearsal process was faster than Changcheon’s.
Each actor prepared individually, and casting was done right from the first meeting.
Even during the main practice, only physical training was carried out to warm up, and no acting practice was done. Since they were all aspiring actors, they were expected to do the basic practice on their own—a hands-off approach.
The group practice time was also short.
However, the actors didn’t immediately leave after group practices.
Most of them stayed behind, either alone or seeking advice from those around them to develop their characters further.
“We will begin the audition.”
“Candidates for the roles of Jekyll and Hyde: Seo Ryu Shin and Shin Yoomyeong.”
The two actors moved to the center.
This development was already expected, but everyone wore an expression of keen interest.
After the summer workshop, those who had witnessed his acting couldn’t stop praising it. That’s why even those not directly involved were eagerly anticipating his performance today.
Seeing him in person, he looked modest and composed. His appearance didn’t yet match the reputation of an ‘acting genius’.
The role of Jekyll and Hyde, the protagonist of this play.
As expected, there were only two leading candidates. This was because the members of Oedipus had implicitly agreed not to intervene in the lead auditions.
In three years, no one had ever outshone Seo Ryu Shin. How would they handle a prodigy like Yoomyeong, especially since he was being called the ‘new actor’ by Yoon Hansung?
Everyone watched from a distance as if they were spectating the showdown of the century.
Yu-ri took her place at the director’s seat.
“For Act 1, Scene 2, please alternate between portraying the bright persona of Jekyll and, in Act 2, Scene 3, the dark persona of Hyde. As you know, the key to ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ is convincingly portraying these two contrasting personalities. I’ll be focusing on this aspect.”
<Jekyll and Hyde>
An 1886 classic by R.L.B. Stevenson.
Even though it was written over a century ago, this revolutionary story exploring human nature remained popular. It’s been adapted into movies, plays, and musicals.
Dr. Jekyll, the protagonist, was a noble and upright figure to anyone who sees him.
However, he develops a drug that releases hidden impulses and, after consuming it, brings out his evil alter ego, Hyde.
The intriguing theatrical aspect of this original work was that while Dr. Jekyll and Hyde are physically the same, their inner selves were complete opposites.
Dr. Jekyll, who epitomizes the human will for good, and Hyde, the pure embodiment of evil.
Each time a new version was created, there was great interest in how a single actor would portray both roles.
Director Seon Yu-ri chose scenes that starkly contrasted the two characters and picked up her pen.
In the first turn, Seo Ryu Shin would play Jekyll, and Shin Yoomyeong would play Hyde.
First up was Seo Ryu Shin.
The assistant director stood on the same stage to feed the lines.
“Act 1, Scene 2, start.”
Seo Ryu Shin closed his eyes momentarily to gather his emotions and then began his lines.
“Ah, Utterson. It’s been a while, my dearest friend. You’re as constant as ever, with your soothing words and warm smile. I always feel comforted seeing you.”
“You flatter me, Jekyll. You always seem to shine.”
“Oh, you. But perhaps it’s because of tennis. Flying around under the intense sun can improve both one’s physical and mental health, they say.”
The elegant Dr. Jekyll, a nobleman portrayed like a painting, radiated his aristocratic charm.
Yoomyeong admired that performance.
He had seen Seo Ryu Shin’s performances multiple times after Seo Ryu Shin became a renowned actor in his 30s.
However, this was the first time he had properly watched Seo Ryu Shin’s performance in this lifetime if one were to exclude the role of Mary, which Seo Ryu Shin had played with limited screen time and the challenging condition of being cross-gendered.
‘From this time, he was already… an incredible actor.’
Onstage, he had an overwhelming presence that captured people’s attention instantly. Jekyll’s handsome face radiated with nobility. He had a natural charisma that made people gravitate toward him at any gathering. Everyone watching wore an enchanted smile.
Clap, clap, clap, clap—
Dr. Jekyll’s performance was gracefully concluded.
The performance was so polished that no one would believe that it was just a rehearsal before the actual casting.
Everyone clicked their tongues in admiration, thinking, ‘As expected of Seo Ryu Shin.’
“Next. Act 2, Scene 3, Hyde’s role, Shin Yoomyeong.”
Now, it was Yoomyeong’s turn.
The scene of Hyde’s first appearance.
After witnessing Hyde beating an innocent old man as he passed by, Richard Enfield intervened.
The assistant director threw the first line.
“Hey, you there! What are you doing?”
Yoomyeong took a deep sigh—hoo—and then hunched his body.
His back curved, and his raised shoulders pressed down on the back of his neck. It was a perfect representation of a deformed body shape.
Then, he delivered his lines.
“This old man just pointed at me. He called me a hunchback and insulted me in his heart. I felt hurt. Heh heh.”
“I… I’ve never done such a thing, sir.”
“Don’t lie! I know it when someone’s being insincere! The nobles might not know, but even though they may seem pitiable on the outside, you have no idea what vile thoughts these lowlifes harbor inside. They’re like dogs and pigs, only understanding the language of a whip. Would you like to try hitting them, sir? It feels really good. Heh heh.”
A sinister smile. A malevolent aura seemed to flow from his entire being.
The actor, who had seemed unremarkable, transformed into a man who appeared ready to pick a fight with any passerby.
Yu-ri felt as if a piano string pierced through her mind, creating a tension that overwhelmed her.
Not just a wicked character, but a being that seemed to embody evilness itself.
The Hyde that director Seon Yu-ri had imagined stood before her.
‘How can he…?’
Seo Ryu Shin was watching that scene, too.
The physical expressions and the delivery of the dialogue were exceptional.
He thought, ‘It’s impossible for this to be his first year of acting,’ and then disregarded that precondition.
This guy simply makes no sense.
Already dissatisfied with the portrayal of Hyde he had practiced so far, Ryu Shin bit his lips in frustration.
Clap, clap, clap, clap, clap—
The first round ended, and all members of the audience sent fervent applause.
Both sides delivered performances that far exceeded the level of students in every way. And the anticipation for the next round, where roles would be changed, was palpable.
The next round was different from what they had expected.
‘Why does Jekyll… look so ordinary…?’
The portrayal of Jekyll was adequate.
But when compared to Seo Ryu Shin’s Jekyll, who seemed to radiate a noble’s halo all on his own…
‘Hyde looks too kind…’
It was a decent portrayal of Hyde.
But compared to Shin Yoomyeong’s Hyde, which seemed as if evil itself had taken human form…
The soaring expectations from the previous round were deflated.
In a way, this was to be expected.
Everyone had roles they excelled at, and characters completely opposite to their strengths often became their weaknesses.
Yu-ri was deeply troubled.
“Let’s take a break. We will hold a meeting with the directing team and be back.”
She went into a meeting with the assistant director.
“Well… I think it should be Ryu Shin, don’t you think?”
The assistant director, Ji Hyung from the class of ’99, cautiously voiced his opinion.
“Yoomyeong might find it challenging, right?”
“Well… that portrayal of Hyde was truly remarkable, but the gap…”
It came down to Seo Ryu Shin’s performance and Shin Yoomyeong’s performances.
Both had surpassed the level of university students; they had delivered professional-level acting.
However, if one were to score the roles of Jekyll and Hyde, Seo Ryu Shin would be at 7 and 3, while Shin Yoomyeong would be at 2 and 8. Even if the combined scores were equal, the gap was more significant on Shin Yoomyeong’s side.
“I think that’s the right call. We need to ensure quality in both roles.”
“That’s true, but… that Hyde…”
“It’s a real waste to let it go.”
“Anyway, as the directing team, we have to make the best choice, so it’s inevitable.”
Though that portrayal of Hyde still lingered in Yu-ri’s mind, true to her rational nature, she shook off her regrets.
“The role of Jekyll and Hyde has been decided to be played by Seo Ryu Shin.”
It was an official announcement from the directing team.
Yoomyeong swallowed hard.
He could understand the reason why he didn’t make it.
He had spent a considerable amount of time practicing to adapt to the lines of the ‘classic script’, ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,’ but in the end, he still hadn’t grasped the character of Jekyll.
The world he had known was from 15 years into the future.
The era where delivering lines in a theatrical manner was considered virtuous had passed. There was a trend to avoid exaggerated tones that seemed unrealistic. When performing with old scripts, it had become common to adapt them to make them easier on the ears.
Among them, Yoomyeong was the type who pursued realistic and convincing acting. For someone like him, it was natural that he found it challenging to adapt to lines filled with excessive formality and flourish.
From the day the directing team sent the script for casting, Yoomyeong repeatedly practiced to overcome this challenge.
Playing Hyde was somewhat easier for him since the lines for the radical character of Hyde had significantly deviated from the aristocratic tone. However, the lines for Jekyll were full of archaic phrases not used in everyday conversations, which constantly disrupted his immersion.
‘I can do it. If I just had a bit more time.’
He believed that. Or rather, he had to.
While supporting roles and extras had their own value, this time, there was a compelling reason not to yield the lead role:
It was his parents.
The biggest reason why Yoomyeong decided to participate in another school play was to gently persuade his parents within the context of the school environment.
The play ‘Jekyll and Hyde,’ as the title suggested, was a play for and about the protagonist, driven by the protagonist, and focused solely on the protagonist.
The other characters lacked both weight and individuality. To persuade his parents who weren’t familiar with theater through acting was…
Yu-ri called out the names of the next audition participants.
“Candidates for the role of Lawyer Utterson: Shin Suho, Jo Min-seok, and Shin Yoomyeong.”
The casting method of Oedipus was unique.
They decided on the lead roles first and then moved down in order of significance. Those who were rejected for earlier roles participated in the auditions for subsequent roles.
It was a method employed to assemble the cast with the most talented actors.
Having been rejected for the lead role casting, Yoomyeong was automatically set to audition for the next significant role.
However, he raised his hand to object.
“I apologize, but I will not apply for the subsequent role auditions.”
Yu-ri’s expression stiffened.
“Don’t tell me… Are you saying that you won’t participate in the Oedipus performance if you’re not the lead role?”
“No. Instead of a major role, I wish to apply for the part of ‘Extra 1.'”
The old man who got beaten by Hyde.
It was a role so minor that there wasn’t even an audition for it— it was reserved for anyone who just wanted to try it out and was a role that couldn’t even be considered a supporting role.
“…Why would you… What’s the reason for that?”
“I will remain as a candidate for the Jekyll and Hyde role until I secure it.”
He played his final card.
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