Monday, February 14, 2011

Korea: The Man of La Mancha

The Man of La Mancha is one of my favorite musicals of the 20th century, adapted from the Spanish classic Don Quixote. My old high school English teacher insisted Don Quixote is a classic of literature because it is a book that changes meaningfully over time when you read it at different stages in your life: As a young man, as an adult, as an elder. It transcends cultures to reflect on the human experience and leaves you connected to that journey in such a way you want to pass it on to others.

The Man of La Mancha has been adapted and performed across the US, but also in Japan, Israel, France, Peru, Norway, Poland, Czecheslovakia and as I've shown here, Korea:

Certainly, there are some who would question its authenticity if we don't have a real elderly Spaniard from La Mancha playing it, because it would surely be as horrible as non-Minnesotans in Purple Rain, particularly Minneapolitans. But I find the Korean approach to the material interesting. From a perspective as a Lao American writer, I would certainly be interested in seeing how Lao might adapt the story, and whether it would resonate the same way it has for many other cultures.

This is always an interesting question when we bring work back and forth between societies with different aesthetics in music, costume and staging.

Sometimes we get work such as this example of a Pan-Asian staging of Romeo and Juliet:

And of course other times we might get something like the 1987 film China Girl:

Go figure.

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