BIPAF 2014 (Busan International Performing Arts Festival)

My friend entered his play “Treasured Love”  into  this year’s BIPAF’s 10 minute play competition. He recruited 4 volunteers from Pohang, including me, and we started preparing mid April. We lost one along the way so he became writer-director-actor. What a guy!

I didn’t realise how big the festival was. It ran from 2-11 May and the 10 minute play competition was the only one open to amateurs like us.  I’m pretty sure that we were the only foreigners out of 25 plays in the running.

It became clear on rehearsal day that our play was slightly different to the rest. The main Korean themes were suicide, bullying and handicapped issues. Real tear-jerkers- no language required! Our play was about vampires… A combo of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” and “Only Lovers Left Alive”.  Needless to say, we gave our best but it was never going to cut it. At least we got some laughs from the audience…

I  learned a lot about what to expect and prep for next time.

Firstly, the theme has to have substance. Koreans like heavy themes, they spell drama with a capital D. The ten minute play should feature both laughter and tears (real ones, preferably shed by a male). There’s got to be Love and a Broken Heart somewhere in the mix. Plus Redemption if you have time…

Secondly, you need a soundtrack. At least one song but more is better.

Thirdly, lighting. Don’t think that having the lights on all the time will win you any points. It won’t.

Fourthly, timing. If the competition is called “Ten minute Plays” then you’d better finish right at 09:59 or 10:00. Seven and a half minutes? Forget you!

Lastly, script. Keep the English to a minimum, keep it basic, speak slowly. If you can, don’t use any language, concentrate on miming and dancing instead. Everyone loves a bit of synchronised dancing, especially if it’s a group of boys popping on the stage.

If I lived in Busan I would definitely have gone to the other shows. I admire  Korea’s approach to making arts and culture accessible to everyone by making tickets affordable.

I hope that next year will see more foreign plays in the running, since there is talent in Pohang, Daegu and Busan. Maybe one day a foreign play can even win. Now wouldn’t that be something!

 

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