Modl Theatre (Korea)
From 04 August 2016 to 28 August 2016
Review by Catherine Lamm
Modl, the Korean group which also has the delightful family production, The Dandilion's Story, in the Fringe, is workshopping a new play, Girl which addresses the shame around World War II's "comfort women". Many today are not even familiar with the term. These were girls and young women lured or kidnapped mostly from Korea during the war forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Army.
The Japanese and Korean governments denied the existance of these survivors for decades. In 1965, Japan signed a treaty which, among other things, cleared Japan of wrongdoing.
It is only within the last decade or so that the world has finally acknowledged the existance of "comfort women". Within the last couple of years, an unofficial count of comfort women still alive was about 50.
In 2010, Korean Haerry Kim brought a painful production (Face) to the fringe with the issue still not realistically addressed. Any women still alive would be in their 80s or 90s. Reparations would have to go to heirs.
Sadly, another hurdle has been the initial shame which kept these women from returning home, their own and their families; the term “comfort woman” became synonomous with prostitute.
Girl looks personally and painfully into one family from a very small village who come to mourn. They are asked to re-examine their prejudices surrounding this grandmother history: snatched from the street at age 12 and raped up to 75 times a day.
This production still needs so much work. Bringing a Korean production to a western community where English is spoken requires a great deal more of the production in English with some way to inform the audience of the nuances of Korean culture especially around family, death and funerals. Playwright JungSuk Kim needs a dramaturg and translator to help develop this play.
This very able cast of eleven overwhelms the playing area. The audience understands only the very basic and obvious interactions. Too much of the story is in exposition. This is a story that needs to be told, not just to the Koreans and Japanese, but also the rest of the world.