Even on stage, children lose their mother. "Mothers are people who will leave quietly, without leaving a trace. You shouldn't stay sad about it for too long", is what another character will say in an attempt to console the children but their hearts are already wounded deeply. The play, an adaptation from the book "Please Look After Mom" written by Korean author Shin Kyung-sook, is aimed at showing how ungrateful children of this generation are. The play features TV stars Jung Hye-sun and Shim Yang-hong as the mother and father, Kil Yong-woo as the eldest son Young-chul and Seo Yee-sook as the role of the eldest daughter Ji-yeon. "Mom" is already causing a stir with news that veteran actress Baek Song-hee will appear in the play as the maternal grandmother.
Scenes from "Please Look After Mom" [Seensee Company]
"Please Look After Mom" will be directed by Ko Seok-man and scenarist Ko Yeon-ok who wrote the stage adaptation. Unlike last year's plays which portrayed moms as an icon of obedience and sacrifice, "Please Look After Mom" talks about maternal instincts of mothers of the 21st century. This play tells its story by depicting on the mother as a woman who embraces everything yet holds a firm ground and receives consolation not by a member of her family but someone outside her family. The original novel has been translated and sold in 15 different countries including Korea, London and Japan. "Please Look After Mom" will open at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts at the M Theater until March 23.
Q: What did you think about the performance as both the author for the original book and as a member of the audience?
Shin Kyung-sook (Shin): It takes much thought to decide whether you'll allow your work to be created into a new format but after the decision has been made, you're seeing a whole new product through the cast and production. I was excited to watch the play and I think it delivered the main message much clearly than in the book since it is communicated to the audience through the stage. And unlike the novel, the story felt like a big production because the characters brought each scene to life. "Mom" is more than just a story about a mother and the play did a better job than me at some parts in showing that. For me personally, there are some things that remain unresolved but there were moments while watching the play that certain emotions surged. There were also some parts I couldn't bear to watch.
Q: Were there some references that you gave the staff?
Shin: Before meeting the director and writer, I had some things in mind to explain to them. But after 20 minutes of meeting them those thoughts disappeared. I did have one request, which was for the writers to intertwine other mother character based shows to make the mother in this show stand out.
Q: Actress Jung Hye-sun, you have played the "Mom" role in many dramas and movies. What is the difference between playing the role in the theater versus the small and big screen
Jung Hye-sun: They're all the same. I've played the role of mother many times before and I don't see any difference between them. The difference is that in the theater, I have to make sure to project my voice so the audience in the back can hear me, which is difficult to do. But all the mother roles I took on are fundamentally the same.
Q: There must have been difficulties you encountered while rehearsing or staging the play since the theme of "Mom" is one that audience cannot help but sympathize to.
Seo Yi-sook: The mother is a being that makes everyone's heart ache, even the thought of her. So I tried my best not to think about that feeling while acting because if I didn't, I knew I wouldn't be able to control it. I couldn't cry also because the producer and other actors were crying so much. (laugh) But ironically, I felt like a bad person because I am not revealing my true emotions while working on this play about moms. I'm trying hard to control my emotions because I trust that the play itself has the power to draw out those emotions.
Kil Yong-woo: I always cry in the scene where Seo Yee-sook and I meet after the news of our mother's death. I am not the best son but I hope the audience members who saw "Mom" decide to visit or call their parents more often.
Q: Ko Yeon-ok, a lot of your previous work has been about the world men live in. What was the difference between your previous works and writing the stage adaptation of a best seller?
Ko Yeon-ok: I didn't know why they had recommended I write it. But I became fascinated with the changes that the characters go through after the death of the mother. The death of the mother is very symbolic. There are many symbolic details in the original story which I tried to insert into the play. I also personally have wanted to try this sort of work.
Director Ko Seok-man [Seensee Company]
Q: Director Ko Seok-man, you too have helmed many powerful MBC TV series. How did you get involved with this play?
Ko Seok-man: I received the request to direct the play last April and like Ko Yeun-ok, I first thought about why they had asked me to do it. I think turning the novel "Please Look After Mom" into a play in itself shows how the world of theater has changed. You can't leave out the commercial aspect but I understood that this attempt to make the novel into a play was based on the fact that Korean culture itself will change depending on how deep the roots are to the authentic Korean theater. So I think I was asked to direct this play with the expectation that I will be able to integrate a new form of sentimentality, language and scent into the theater industry. I wanted to put my might into it if I could bring change for the good.
Q: What do you think is attractive about the play different from the novel?
Ko Seok-man: There are so many stories dealing with mothers that it was hard to objectify that. (laugh) I thought hard about how I could turn the magically realistic work of Shin Kyung-sook into a socially realistic play for the stage. So I incorporated some elements from Shin's other novels which I believe helped make this play more solid. The common reasoning among current content regarding mothers was that they make sacrifices and and are obedient, as if the maternal instinct is only natural and unconditional. But this play contained a comman humane element -- that everyone embraces one another and that is what the maternal instinct that 21st century demands for. I discussed with others that as time goes by, maternal instincts occur on different levels and should develop. That is why I portrayed the mother in the play as a savior of humankind.
Reporter : Jang Kyung-Jin firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor : Lucia Hong email@example.com
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