UToledo School of Visual and Performing Arts

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University of Toledo faculty members invited to direct theatre production in South Korea

Cornel Gabara and Irene Alby

Cornel Gabara and Irene Alby

Cornel Gabara, associate professor of Theatre, and Irene Alby, Theatre lecturer, are currently in Seoul, South Korea, where they are co-directing a production of William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The two were invited by Kookmin University to direct the play, which will be performed by student actors who are performing it as a master’s thesis production. It will open to the public on September 7, 2012.

The play is familiar territory for Gabara who directed the UT production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” which was staged in Toledo’s historic Valentine Theatre last November. However, he says this production won’t look the same as the one presented in Toledo.

“In Korea, you have a different language and a different culture so it will also have a different design. It will have more video elements and more choreography,” says Gabara. His wife and co-director Irene Alby will direct the video and choreography and Gabara will handle the text analysis, although they will also collaborate and share ideas across their roles.

Alby says that while she will bring her own direction and design concepts, they are not set in stone. “I will be relying on them [student cast and crew members] and their familiarity with the culture to guide me. I have already sent my ideas to them for their consideration and I’m anxious to see what their thoughts are.”

Even though Gabara does not speak Korean, he has much experience with translating Shakespeare into foreign languages. Aided by an interpreter, he has worked through the text to provide a translation that is the most meaningful to his Korean audience and best relates Shakespeare’s work. The interpreter will also help Alby and Gabara as they direct the actors.

Gabara adds that language isn’t necessarily the biggest challenge. “The real challenge is how do we express the universality of Shakespeare with Korean cultural elements. It’s still the same play. The comedy and the concepts of opposing forces—male and female, night and day, dark and light, powerful and powerless—they are still there. But the form they take will be different. It will reflect Korean culture.”

Those interested can learn more about the progress of the play on the UT Department of Theatre & Film blog and Facebook fan page. Here are the links: