BWW Review: THE HELMET VOL 1 at S Theater, Sejong Performing Arts Center
Before I start my review, I want to start by asking a simple question, 'When you were 9 years old, what was your dream?' Being the president or the CEO of a company? When we are young, we dream about so many things and expect a future filled with opportunities. However, does it shock you that somewhere far away in a city called Aleppo, a nine-year-old child's most desperate dream is to be an adult? Not riches, honor, or happiness, simply just to be an adult. An amazingly talented writer in South Korea decided to write a story of two different cities that each has its own narrative featuring a white helmet and a dream. With the help of a director, the story was adapted into a one of a kind theatrical performance. THE HELMET VOL 1, a play that had its second production this year, started performances on January 8th ending its journey on February 27th at the S-Theatre of Sejong Performing Arts Center.
THE HELMET VOL 1 consists of two episodes, Room Seoul and Room Aleppo. For each of the episodes, there are two rooms you can choose, the big room or the small room. Though they are performed in the same theater, the entrance to each room is different. The moment you step into the performance area, you can see that the seats are all placed to the walls and that an opaque glass sliding door is placed in the middle of the room. The opaque sliding door is used as a divider of the performance area, making the two rooms. The show starts with the door wide open, giving both the audience of the big and small room, background information of the setting. This makes sure that each of the audience is starting on the same page. The doors are closed halfway through the performance and the actors go into separate rooms, they interact with each other by actions or specific repetitive phrases. During the conclusion, the doors are opened once again, joining the audience together, resolving the two separate experiences into one big picture.
The amazing story of THE HELMET VOL 1 is focused on one common item, like the title represents a helmet, specifically a white helmet. The story of Room Seoul sets in Seoul 1987, the time when military dictatorship dominated South Korea. During this time, many university students formed organizations that fought against this injustice and for the system of direct election of the president. At this time, there was a violent organization called the Baek Gol Dan(White Skull Organization) that was under the control of the government. They would wear white helmets and dress in denim clothes, blending with the university students. Their main purpose was to suppress the demonstrations done by students and to find out the head of control of these anti-dictatorship organizations. Mostly, they would treat students with such violence, leading to many causalities, including death due to severe torture.
The story of Room Aleppo sets in modern-day Syria, specifically the biggest city of the country devastated by civil war, Aleppo. The white helmet here represents 'The White Helmets,' officially known as Syria Civil Defense(SCD). SCD is a voluntary organization that operates in parts of rebel-controlled Syria and Turkey. Most of their activities are rescuing and evacuating civilians from dangerous areas. In some scenes of Room Aleppo, not only there are references to tragedies that have happened in Korea but the most well-known tragedy of Syria, "Death of Alan Kurdi." There is a line where the child of Room Aleppo mentions about how he saw the photograph of a three-year-old Syrian boy's dead body was found on a beach in Turkey.
7,644 km, that is the distance from Seoul to Aleppo. It seems so far away when looking at that number. People hear about the terrible tragedies that are happening in Syria but we never really know what it is like. It was the same for me, I've heard about how so many civilians were killed but I never truly could understand what was happening. That is why THE HELMET VOL I was so shocking to me in that, it decreased the 7,644 km distance to 0. Watching a bloodied child repeating "I just want to be an adult," was all I needed to realize the true tragedy of Syria. It made me think about how when there are children who grow up hearing about the marvelous thing that they could expect in the future, there are also children who live their life by the day, not knowing for certain if they would wake up the following day.
THE HELMET VOL 1 is a show that after you watch, it keeps lingering on your mind and makes you think. It is a special piece of work that connects two different cities based on two different eras with a white helmet. The show challenges people to think in a different perspective, look at both sides of an incident, and realize that sometimes everything you take for granted is a dream to some people.
THE HELMET VOL 1 plays until the 27th at the S-Theater of Sejong Performing Arts Center. Tickets are 30,000 KRW and can be purchased at www.interparkglobal.com or the box office offline. Don't forget to check the show schedule prior to purchasing the tickets.
For more information, please visit www.interparkglobal.com.
Photo Credit: IM Culture