It creates an atmosphere best described by its own title: a ritual. Or, as its creator, the London-based South Korean artist Bongsu Park puts it, ‘a shamanistic ritual’ subtly pointing towards the mystical aspect of dreams.
The house lights at The Coronet Theatre go down to leave the stage plunged into a bluish penumbra (dreamy lighting design by Connor Sullivan), a series of translucent curtains shimmering gently. As she walks on, the dancer Jinyeob Cha, who also choreographed the piece, draws one curtain across the width of the stage. On it the face of a sleeping woman is then projected.
White-clad Cha stands behind, eyes closed, torso and arms swaying, as it entering the realm of dreams or summoning a hidden power. A hypnotic soundscape (design by haihm), where small timpani predominate, gradually establishes itself.
Dream Ritual is inspired by the centuries-old Korean tradition of buying and selling dreams, documented as far back as the 12th century in the Samguk Sagi, which is considered the very first history of Korea. The belief in dreams as omens and the ability to buy dreams from others persists to this day in Korea.
One such myth is projected onto the front curtain, telling how Munhui buys a dream from her sister Bohui and goes on to marry a prince and bear him six children, thereby fulfilling the symbolism of the dream she bought.
A faint narrative thread runs through Dream Ritual: Cha’s assumes the character of Munhui, buys a dream and becomes a shaman, or healer. She then travels to the collective unconscious, where she meets the dreams of others.
So, in the second part of Dream Ritual we meet the dreams of others, those solicited by Park and Cha from members of the public when they were developing the piece. They are spoken by recorded voices, some in English, others in foreign languages; and some of the words are also projected onto the stage curtain, creating kaleidoscopic patterns of their own.
Inevitably, as you’re drawn into other people’s dreams and wonder about their meaning, you remember your own. Dreams become shared, their mystical power enhanced.
Meanwhile, Cha’s shamanic dancing acquires a trance-like quality, as if she now possesses and channels all those dreams and their power.
Dream Ritual is a supremely elegant and delicate show, the Eastern mysticism of which slowly but surely blends with, and enriches our Western cultural preconceptions. Three cheers to the Coronet Theatre for bringing it to London audiences.
NOTE: A video by Bongsu Park can be viewed FREE of charge in the Print Room Studio, 3 – 6 July at 18:30 and 21:30
|What||Dream Ritual, Bongsu Park & Jinyeob Cha Review|
|Where||The Coronet Theatre, Print Room, 103 Notting Hill Gate, London, W11 3LB | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Notting Hill Gate (underground)|
03 Jul 19 – 06 Jul 19, 19:30 Dur.: 1 hour no interval
|Price||£18-£20 (concessions available)|
|Website||Click here to book|