Wow. It’s been a minute. Sorry for the long delay. Community theatre+full-time job; that’s all I’m gonna say.
Currently, I’m working as the set designer for Seoul Shakespeare Company’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I’d never been the lead designer for a theatrical production until this. I’ve designed shows and worked to construct other people’s designs, but never designed and built my own stuff. While I can’t say I’ll ever do it again, it’s been an amazing experience, and the cast and crew I’ve been privileged to work with these past months have been both humbling and inspiring.
In my ignorance, I never thought I’d have the opportunity to do anything like this while working in Korea. I figured the only projects I’d be working on here were my own screenplays, but to my surprise, there’s a huge, tight knit English-speaking community of artists in Seoul. I wish I’d known about it at the beginning of my time here rather than in the fourth quarter, so I’m going to share some resources with you now so that in case you’re an artist coming to Korea, you’ll be better prepared than I was.
Here’s a short list of some of the major players out there, mainly in theatre in film since I’m not too knowledgeable of the visual arts scene (check out meetup.com for visual arts events):
Seoul Filmmaker’s Workshop
– This group is great for anyone interested in any aspect of film, whether it be directing and writing or acting and designing. Each month there’s a workshop where filmmakers have the opportunity to meet fellow cineastas and form collaborations as well as learn new skills. Past workshops have ranged from “How to Build a Fight Scene” to “Producing 101.” If you’re an actor, this group is great for finding work because writers and directors are constantly pitching ideas in need of talent.
Seoul Film Society
– Is film studies your thing? We gotchu, boo. This society screens a variety of Korean films with English subtitles— fo’ free. Screenings usually take place once a month, so check the Facebook page for upcoming events.
Seoul City Improv
– Seoul City Improv does regular comedy shows around Seoul. If you perform improv, they also host workshops for you to keep up your craft, or, if you’d like to join their team, I suppose shoot them a message to get involved.
Seoul Players is one of the major English-speaking theatre troupes in Seoul. They put up a range of comedies and dramas each year, most recently McDonagh’s The Pillowman. They also host an annual 10-minute Play Competition, a great opportunity for writers, directors, and actors.
– Originally “Actors Without Bard’ers,” Seoul Shakespeare is a troupe that produces a main stage Shakepseare production each year. Having worked with them, let me say, they’re one talented bunch. Whether you’re an actor or designer, feel free to check them out.
Camarata Music Company
– This group is good for the musically inclined. Camarata provides opportunities for musicians to perform. I don’t know too much about them, but I believe they have a choir for those of you who’re classically trained and they also produce musicals. They’re dong Alice in Wonderland at the moment.
– HBC stands for Haebangchon Music Festival. It takes place in Nokspayeong a couple of times each year and is really popular amongst foreigners and Koreans alike. Bands play sets in bars and restaurants into the early hours of the morning, while audiences travel from shop to shop to listen and dance. I’m not sure how you book a spot or really of any official event information, but just a heads up if you have a band or are looking to join one.
Alpha is kind of like a mini Office Depot. They carry basic craft and office supplies like paper, paint, and glue. In some you can find more craft supplies like wire, styrofoam, glitter, and so on.
The biggest art supply store in Seoul that I know of is Homi in Hongdae, and even then it’s about 3/4th the size of a Michaels in the States. Downstairs, there’s a paint section, an area of book paper, and office supplies. Upstairs, there’re canvases and a ton of paper, including an area of some really beautiful homemade paper. The paper selection upstairs makes Homi worth a visit. It’s a little tricky to find, so check out the map here before you go.
– Dongdaemun Market
If you’re unfamiliar with purchasing fabric, this place is scaaaary. It’s basically a warehouse the size of a football stadium packed with stall after stall of fabric vendors. So. much. fabric. There are also tons of accessories and trimmings for sale. So, if you have a sewing machine you’d like to put to use, this place is for you. Check here for hours and directions.
So, yeah. I wish, wish, wish I’d known about these groups last year. Soooo much opportunity out there, but c’est la vie. Hope these tips help you to get involved faster than I was able to!