Photo Flash: La MaMa's HAMYUL/HAMLET

La MaMa will present the world-premiere of HAMYUL/HAMLET -- a new adaptation of William Shakespeare's classic play by Korean-American writer/director Byungkoo Ahn-- this summer, with preview performances starting June 23 prior to a press opening June 26 at La MaMa (74A E. 4 St.) in Manhattan. Byungkoo Ahn directs.

HAMYUL/HAMLET is portrayed by Young Kun Song, one of Korea's most prominent stage actors known for his work in leading roles in both Korean productions as well as Western classics.

Mr. Byungkoo's HAMYUL: HAMLET is a re-interpretation of his father Min Soo Ahn's HAMLET, presented in 1977 by La MaMa's late founder and artistic director Ellen Stewart. The elder Mr. Ahn's PRINCE HAMYUL: KOREAN HAMLET was performed at La Mama in 1977 by the Donrang Repertory Theatre, marking the first time a Korean theatre troupe had traveled outside Korea, introducing Western audiences to Korean theatre traditions.

Now, almost 35 years later, a Korean HAMLET returns to La MaMa with Byungkoo Ahn's HAMYUL/HAMLET, which is set in ancient Korea and depicts the timeless story of one of Shakespeare's most famous characters, taking audiences into Hamlet's complex mind and inner journey,blending a classic Western text with Asian aesthetics. HAMYUL/HAMLET combines Korean shamanic rituals, court dances and music in a modern interpretation, all performed by a multi-cultural cast of Korean, Japanese and American actors, musicians and dancers.

La MaMa has a long history with Korean performing arts companies, dating back to 1962 when Wol Do Kang's play HEAD HUNTING had its U.S. debut at La MaMa. Other plays such as JULSA and CYCLE by Tae Suk Oh and HAMLET by Min Soo Ahn followed soon after, along with subsequent productions of more than 30 Korean plays and dance performances.

HAMYUL/HAMLET has music composed by Okgyun Kang, who serves as musical director; choreography by Sen Hea Ha; costumes by Leon Wiebers; scenic design by Jung Griffin; Sound design by YoungwanSeo; lighting design by Marie Yokoyama; Sungpyo Hong is producer.

The cast of HAMYUL/HAMLET features Young Kun Song as Hamlet; Ilkyu Park, Sen Hea Ha, Minkgi Hong, ManHo Kim, Sunny Park, Younjung Kim, Mijin Lee and A-Lam Han,

Young Kun Song (Hamlet) has appeared in The National Theatre of Korea's productions of THREE SISTERS (Sergei), THE TEMPEST (Ariel), OEDIPUS AND KARMA (Oedipus) winning the Best Performance Award at the Festival of Greek Tragic Drama in Athens in 2003. His leading roles at the Seoul Arts Center (Korea's equivalent of Lincoln Center) include HAMLET, AMADEUS and LIFE IS A DREAM.

Sen Hea Ha is a choreographer and dancer who has appeared in productions by Peter Sellars, and has worked with Pina Bausch, having taught Korean dance to Ms. Bausch's company. She had a long-term collaboration with the composer Gyorgy Ligeti, choreographing his "Resurrection," "Requiem" and "Ramification." She is artistic director and choreographer for TBS Dance Theatre, the fist dance group to explore Java traditional expression with contemporary expression. Her production of "Infinita" with TBS Dance Theatre toured Holland, Belgium, Austria and Paris. Recently, she was invited to choreograph and perform for a new opera production, TELESIO with music composed and directed by Franco Battiato in Cosenza, Italy.

In the fall of 2009, Byungkoo Ahn's adaptations of two Chekov short stories -- entitled DAYS AND NIGHTS -- were presented at La Mama ETC. Born in Seoul, Byungkoo Ahn is a director, playwright, designer and singer. At the age of 20, Mr. Ahn's production of "Cavalleria Rusticana" was invited by 'Young Theatre Festival' at The National Theatre of Korea. In 1996, Mr. Ahn was awarded the Mampist Grant, given to young exceptional artists for their further study by Samsung Foundation of Culture. Mr. Ahn received his MFA in theater directing from UCLA in 2000, and served as a stage director of opera workshop programs at California State University and Chongshin University. He has directed over a dozen opera productions including "Dido and Aeneas," "Amahl and the Night Visitors," "The Doctor" and "Orlando" in the States and the Czech Republic.

Scheduled through July 10, HAMYUL: HAMLET performs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 ($20 students/seniors) and can be purchased by calling the La MaMa box office at 212 475 7710 or by visiting the website www.lamama.org.

La MaMa is a remarkable arts institution with a world-wide reputation for producing cutting-edge work in theater, dance, performance art, and music. Founded in 1961 by theater pioneer and legend, Ellen Stewart, La MaMa has produced and presented more than 3,000 theatrical productions to date and is a vital part of the fabric of cultural life in New York City and around the world.

La MaMa provides a supportive home for artists and takes risks on unknown work. Artists such as Sam Shepard, Lanford Wilson, Philip Glass, Robert Wilson, Harvey Fierstein, Blue Man Group, David and Amy Sedaris, -and others whose names you haven't heard of yet - began their careers at La MaMa. International Artists introduced to America by La MaMa include Tadeusz Kantor, Andrei Serban, Kazuo Ohno and, more recently, the acclaimed Belarus Free Theatre.La MaMa has been honored with more than 30 OBIE Awards, dozens of Drama Desk and Bessie Awards, and, in 2006, Ellen Stewart was recognized with a special TONY Award for "Excellence in the Theatre."

Photo Credit: Chun ik Chang

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