Yoo Dong-geun and Jung Bo-seok, two actors coloring the ‘stage called life’ ···play ‘Red’
Red, a play about the 1950s painter Mark Rothko
Yoo Dong-geun’s first play in 30 years
Yoo Dong-geun “A play like a first child”, Jeong Bo-seok “Unrequited love”
A cave-like studio where not a single ray of light enters.The stage is lined with buckets of paint and brushes and huge canvases.A middle-aged painter with a sullen expression starts cursing Andy Warhol.
“Do you really think Andy Warhol will be hung in a museum in 100 years?”The young assistant’s answer continued, “Is it hanging now?”
In response to the old painter’s complaint that it is the business of “damn galleries” that do whatever it takes to make money, and not art, the young assistant steadfastly adds.“Aren’t you tired of telling people what art should be like?”
The time of the play stage is somewhere between 1958 and 1959.The middle-aged painter is Mark Rothko (1903-1970), a painter who represents American abstract expressionism in the 1950s.He is a figure imprinted in the history of modern art with the color-field abstract paintings he left behind for 20 years, until he took his own life in his studio in 1970.
The play <Red> (directed by Kim Tae-hoon), which opened on the 20th of last month at the Jayu Theater in the Seoul Arts Center, brings a conversation between a real person, Roscoe, and his fictional assistant, ‘Ken’, onto the stage.It deals with the true story of a mural commissioned by Roscoe in 1958 for the Seagram Building in New York.Roscoe received a large sum of money and completed a series of 40 pieces for the high-end restaurant ‘Four Seasons’ in this building, but for some reason, he suddenly canceled the contract and returned the money.
The play unfolds a debate about art, generation, and life through a conversation between a famous middle-aged painter who has already become a master and a young unknown painter he hires as an assistant.Just as Rothko’s abstract expressionism, which drove away Picasso’s cubism, was pushed aside by Andy Warhol’s pop art, it talks about the cycle of the world where the old is conquered by the new.
Roscoe, who rejects the new trend while building his own solid castle, and Ken, who boldly criticizes his narrow-mindedness, are figures representing the old and new generations, respectively.Ken questions Roscoe, who has been fiercely criticizing the commercialization of art, for accepting a mural for a high-end restaurant frequented by rich people.
It is a play written by John Logan, who is also famous as a screenwriter for films such as <Gladiator>, <Aviator>, <Star Trek: Nemesis>, and <The Last Samurai>.After premiered in London, UK in 2009, it went to Broadway in the US the following year and won six Tony Awards in 2010, including Best Picture in a Play and Best Director.In Korea, it first appeared on stage in 2011.
As it is a two-person play in which the fierce discussion and tension between the two characters is the main focus, it is fun to watch the actors’ tight acting breath.The self-conscious and stubborn Roscoe is alternately played by Yoo Dong-geun (66) and Jeong Bo-seok (61).
If Jung Bo-seok played Roscoe for the third time following 2015 and 2019, Yoo Dong-geun is the first time in 30 years that he has been on the stage of a play.Yoo Dong-geun, who has 42 years of acting experience, started acting in the 1980s at Minjoong Theater Company and built a foothold for growth as an actor at the El Canto Small Theater.Since then, he has been active mainly in TV dramas for a long time and has been loved by the public for his bold acting.He said that he started practicing three weeks before the other actors because it was his return to the stage after a long time.
At a press call last month, Yoo Dong-geun said, “It’s actually my first experience as it’s been a long time since I’ve been on stage. This play is probably like the birth of my first child.”It is said that the opportunity to appear was none other than Jeong Bo-seok’s performance.He said, “I saw <Red> performed by Jung Bo-seok in 2019, and it was so cool.I was immersed in the charm of the character Roscoe,” he said. “I obtained the script and read it, and it was a strong motivation.”
If this work is “first child” for Yoo Dong-geun, it is “unrequited love” for Jung Bo-seok.Jeong Bo-seok said, “I feel sorry for the love I couldn’t achieve, so I regret it again.”“This is the third time, and every time I start to regret it from the day I said I would do it.I want to do it if we are separated, but the moment I say I will, my head hurts.There is one good thing.It is a work that reminds me of how much I am lacking as an actor and stimulates me.”
Jeong Bo-seok cited “the point of telling life through art as a material” as the charm of this work that challenges many times.“We fall into the delusion that our truth will last forever.If you create something new through the past, you should be prepared to become the past, but this play shows that you forget it.”Yoo Dong-geun said, “The script itself is like a piece of classical art history,” and “It’s like a big mountain range to me.”
They play the same role, but the color is different.Yoo Dong-geun’s Roscoe is rough but humane.Yoo Dong-geun said, “I was envious of actor Jung Bo-seok’s wonderful acting, but I wanted to approach my own interpretation, a more humane Roscoe.”Roscoe, played by Jeong Bo-seok, is sharp and cold-hearted.He “approaches meticulously, fiercely, and astutely.An artist who is thorough in his life, who does not tolerate any loopholes.”
Kang Seung-ho and Yeon Jun-seok alternately play Ken, the assistant who asks Roscoe provocative yet sharp questions.On stage, he mixes paints, paints on a huge canvas as if dancing, and argues non-stop, working together with two veteran actors for 100 minutes.The show runs until February 19th.