The Pure Theatre Laboratory Machal

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The Pure Theater Laboratory Machal, established in July 2009, has achieved both physical and emotional sharing through workshops of consilience (the unity of knowledge) in collaboration with other genres.

Got Naduri
Since the Sun was too bright

 Starting from Suspicion

                                                                                       Joh Seong-joo, Artistic Director of LIG Art Hall

Some salient points in work by the Pure Theater Laboratory Machal, led by Kim Cheol-seung, are  deferred space-time,’ ‘story chosen on a whim,’ and ‘musicality the body and language expose’. Although each point demands to be expounded, and may trigger disputes, I would present simple descriptions through observation. However, I am not sure how much my observation reflects the group members’ ideas about their activities.

 Deferred Space-time
The site-specific form director Kim Cheol-seung and the laboratory showed recently, before and after their official foundation performance in 2009, is the necessary and sufficient condition to solve the matter of spatiality. Each space chosen for I am ignorant for the time that I was absent (2009), Since the sun was too bright (2009), and Strolling ; Got Naduri (2010) becomes the optimal environment for artworks due to its comprehensive spatiality. Each environment efficiently curtails a passage for viewers to admit the existence of characters and focus on their activities. To say rather exaggeratingly, an ideal ‘there’ becomes ‘here’ as contactable physically.
Of places mentioned, two places (except for the LIG Art Hall) help clarify the world his works depict with their fitting site specificity. The places include 80 year-old Seoul Station, which was off-limits for many years, and a 100 year-old inn built during the Japanese colonial period. These two spaces lost their function, after a confused, harsh modern and contemporary history, have a deferred space-time and do not work any longer. While viewers can enter them and wonder for a while, space-time soaks into their reality, effacing noises inherent in thought. These noises are fixed notions or kinds of unfamiliarity opposite to realistic thinking. Considering many expressive methods are used to make viewers understand a theater’s text, or ‘there’ in idea, I discover Machal helps them attend a new world in an intuitive state.

Story Chosen on a Whim
In Machal’s work, performers, viewers, and the director stay in the same space during a performance. The director-cum-artist Kim Cheolseung fabricates a narrative. His unusual way of creating a narrative structure in an impromptu manner brings out an unpredictable dramatic tension when the director reveals figures and activities. Kim and his colleagues represent a moment of being alive on stage.
As in Since the sun was too bright, Kim dismantles all theatrical elements including narrative, then encapsulates each piece in his work like fragments. These fragments represented through discontinued dialog, repetitive yet vague figures and relationships, and stylized descriptions of the body, eventually embrace performers, accepting occasions occurring ‘here and now’.

Musicality the Body and Language Reveal
Kim’s remarkable musicality leading a performance in an impromptu manner contributes to making viewers understand his ambiguous, unfamiliar work. It refers to the musical composition (or rhythmical arrangement) of elements, including sentimentalism brought out during a performance, beyond the auditory sense. By carefully following the process of the performance achieved through rhythmical connection and combination of all figurative elements, viewers can discover Kim’s unique musicality accords with other features of his work.
The value Kim admits and captures is ‘a living moment’. He is a cool director who says he can sacrifice all elements, including theater, text, and performer, if he can make all moments live. This coolness produces some unfamiliarity. Interestingly, such coolness and unfamiliarity often
convinces viewers about his work’s intent.

Kim and Machal’s work has a point of departure more apparent than its goal. Their work commences with suspicion of elements forming established theater. I am curious about and anticipate how productively they can use such elements in their work.