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Kojin Nishido’s Tokyo Theater Navigation
Japan-Korea Cultural Exchange Project “<em>Peer Gynt</em>”
In “Kojin Nishido’s Tokyo Theater Navigation,” theater critic Nishido shares information on much-talked-about plays.

About his poetic drama Peer Gynt, Ibsen supposedly said that it “cannot be performed on stage” because it is too epic. And it is this piece that South Korea’s leading stage director Yang Jung-ung boldly tackled for Japan and South Korea’s joint performance at the Setagaya Public Theater commemorating its 20th anniversary.
Yang Jung-ung is also overseeing the entire production of the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeong Chang. Finding time in his busy schedule, he traveled between Japan and South Korea. His goal was to create, together with Japan’s unique and distinctive actors and South Korea’s powerfully-skilled actors, a performance that is at “Asia’s cutting edge.”
I met Yang in 2001. At the time, he was a globetrotting bohemian, and the cosmopolitan behavior of his overlaps with that of Peer, who also travels around the world.

Yang Jung-ung
Yang Jung-ung

Europe has had a lineage of “travel stories,” beginning with Homer’s Odyssey. Peer watches over his mother until she passes away before leaving home, travels all across the world, returns to his hometown in his old age, and in the end, reunites with his first love as he approaches his final days. In this travel-filled life of Peer, we see many projections of that of Ibsen himself.
Peer Gynt is a piece that foreshadows how people will go on to connect with each other. An architype of an individual who oscillates amid the day’s international economy is consolidated into the character of Peer Gynt. It is a play that makes us contemplate the state of today’s world in which globalization and ethnic migration have become normalized.

South Korean-edition “<em>Peer Gynt</em>”(2009, 2012)
© LG Arts Center & JD Woo

South Korean-edition “Peer Gynt”(2009, 2012) © LG Arts Center & JD Woo

Kojin Nishido

Theater critic. Professor, Department of Art, School of Literature, Meiji Gakuin University. Born 1954 in Tokyo. Began working as a theater critic in 1978, with focus on underground and small-scale theater plays.

Kojin Nishido