Sublime creativity

Haruk… is a folklore-like bed time story taken to sublime heights of creativity. What was seen on stage was amazing magic, just as the few light ones with which the play begins, to transform a simple story to an artistic presentation, preserving the simplicity using the most simple of props; be it in dress, blending of sound, musical instruments, etc. One can never forget the ingenuity of using items like bottles and cello-tapes to create just the right sounds; the effect of which reminded one of a rustic ambience.

The play challenges the conventional mental disposition, in a gripping display of marvellous story-telling and succeeds in transporting the audience to a surrealistic world of fantasy. The play keeps the audience at the edge of their seats in anticipation of the surprising element . There is never a dull moment in the hour-long play, at the end of which the audience is left feeling it is over so soon.

Thanks to the organisers for bringing such wonderful cultural events for our enjoyment.

-V.K. ALEXANDER

Multi-layered story

A miasma of Haruk, vilify the Haruking of the also-ran Haruked. It is stifling not to fathom the language of Haruk, for Haruk represents the anti-nemesis of a seer, primordial to consuming himself bereft of the world whereas Haruk consumes the world bereft of himself. This Korean play, presents a multi-layered story woven into dimensions of familiarity with a subtle screen presence throwing a surprise larger than sky-scrapers and faster than auto-meters.

It is also quite maudlin to witness true love, formless in structure, grow form to satiate the needs of the child. For the open-ended structure of play makes one navel-gaze on needs and desires, which, though innocent, can self-destruct.

The massive portrayal showed us the lengths of Haruk while the puppetry took us through the breadth of Haruk’s parents; an excellent characterisation, coupled with props, making us cling to the very seat we felt comfortable with.

A Tale of Haruk tells us that artistry in music, characters that fall in love with the viewer and props which question us can make theatre have its own 3D effects sans the glasses.

-ADITYA NAGARAJAN

Connected with children

Hats off to the artistes for creating a mesmerising play with a minimalist stage, blend of puppetry, technology, percussion music and environment friendly articles to don various roles. The spirit of the tree set us soaring high with the birth of Haruk and my son asking “Where is Shahrukh?” The hatching of the egg was the pinnacle of imagination sending the audience into raptures, growing Haruk exemplified puppetry, mother and father inside Haruk’s stomach had the audience emotionally engaged and awestruck at the depiction culminating with a standing ovation reciprocated with the artistes breaking into a graceful musical dance.

As we attempted to connect the tale to the varied connotations of maya, greed, parental love, my son interrupted saying, “I am hungry. I will eat you both”. We love you Haruk. You with the The Hindu MetroPlus were the protagonists of the play bridging cultures, language barriers and building a global theatre.

-MAHESH PATIL

Brilliantly executed

A play primarily meant for children was all that I was being told by people and this definitely made me feel not-so-very-excited about the play, Tale of Haruk. I walked into the auditorium, grabbed a seat and waited for Haruk to come. The stage, the lighting, the setting and the background gave such a tranquil effect and almost made me feel like I was transported to a world of beautiful magical tales. The very fact that most of the music played during the play was created by the actors on stage with such creative use of props like water cans and bottles was laudable.

Honestly, the background score itself was so good that I just did not want it to end. The effects created by the actors on stage made the story so convincing and seem so real.

The actors did not wear fancy clothes nor was the story extraordinarily unusual and complex, but there wasn’t a point through the play where I felt bored. I simply wanted the story to go on and not stop. In short, a brilliantly executed play, unconventional and fabulous use of props and the stage, absolutely mind blowing direction and a fantastic performance by the actors. A play worth watching by ALL age groups! Kudos to the director, cast and crew! Love you Harrrruukkkk!

-PRERNA KULKARNI

Indian productions, take note

I have been a regular at the Hyderabad editions of the Hindu MPTF, and the applause at the end of Tale of Haruk was one of the longest I have seen over the last few years. And why not!

The story was universally relatable at its core; the music and choreography were innovative; the use of lights and minimalistic props was brilliant as was the stage utilisation. But above all one thing stood out; the story, the music, the use of masks and puppets were all so rooted in the Korean folk culture, yet universally appealing. No wonder that the group includes Yoga and Kalaripayattu in their rehearsal regime to perfect their essentially Korean mask dance. I only wish that Indian productions would also follow suit and bring some of the lost folk cultures of India into mainstream theatre.

-RAMACHANDRAN CHIDAMBARAM

Close to nature

Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage” and Bae Yo-Sup’s The Tale of Haruk is a living testimony to this adage by ably placing the world in a belly and presenting it meticulously with a newly churned form.

Be it the growth of puppets, the allegory of the world we live in, the light and shadow sequence, or the master-stroke in the sound design, the director pulled it off with aplomb and weaved a gossamer tapestry.

The extraordinary is built from ordinary, and the way the message is conveyed brings an air of realism to the play. It drives the audience to push the envelope of their imagination whenever there is a moment replete with simmering silence.

The multiple hues in the play propel you to add a dash of colour to an otherwise sepia-toned life. Wait, that’s not all, it takes time to come out of the trance of magical music, err, musical magic. Stay close to this play and stay close to nature.

-RAJA SATISH

Impressive experience

This was my very first experience with theatre and I must admit I was very impressed; impressed with all the recycled products used to create different sounds, the tape, paper, bottles etc. They were used so gracefully by the artists that they look like professional musical instruments. I liked the story, even though it was in Korean with English subtitles. .

I must admit the narrator did a fabulous job not only in narrating the story but also blending the different sounds in sync with the story and getting in the act on and off. The masks worn by the artists are pretty unique and suit the story well.

The way lights were used to add charm to the story was fantastic. The ways tears of Haruk were symbolized with a big cloth was really good. The two big tall masks were awesome. Also the end where the couple were shown as a puppet in a light was really breathtaking. All in all a very good international theatre experience.

-FARHAN AHMED

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Never a dull moment

By the end of the play, along with the world and his own parents, the gargantuan Haruk takes his audience as well, into him.

The magic created by the multi-talented actors, the traditional Korean puppetry, the music from the recyclable goods, transformed a simple story into an incredible visual and musical experience for its viewers.

The happy dream sequence of Haruk shows the technical and creative brilliance of the director.

There isn't a dull moment in this 60-minute play. The need to read the subtitles when a lot is happening on the stage is the lone discomfort.

So the next time (The tale of) Haruk comes to your place, allow him to engulf you. His is an amazing tale!

-PURNIMA TAMMIREDDY

Well-knit melodrama

At the beginning of the play it seemed that it was a mere puppet show but later as the story unfolded, it began to haruk all the way. The act was a perfect blend of music, lights and drama with a good meaning in it. The characters changing their stances and playing music through recyclable material, the portrayal of growing haruk, the masks, the lighting and the shadow sequences it was entirely a fun filled entertainment all the way.

-RITESH KESHWATHKAR

Theatrical treat

A simple yet gripping script knitted perfectly with a flawless execution. A tale of Haruk is a colourful tapestry presented by TUIDA group from Korea. Every element of the performance was so vibrant that it held the audience awestruck. The wonderful use of sounds created from simple objects, beautiful stage presence, artistic usage of props and puppets, marvellous use of lights, combined with great direction and acting took the audience in a different dimension. The tale of Haruk is a theatrical treat for everybody. It gives your mind a food for thought and leaves you mesmerised and Haruked!

-PRATEEK KARKARE

Compelling stagecraft

The play retells the poignant Korean parable of the lives of an old and lonely couple whose mundane existence is enlivened with the arrival of Haruk who is however prohibited from eating but dew. However the overindulgent couple breaks the promise to the spirit anf give him a morsel of rice.

Haruk turns into a monster and devours everything, finally even the self sacrificing old couple . The charming use of the comical interludes throughout the play enhances the poignancy of the tale. The play is full of symbolism too. The old couple are found to still exist in the belly of Haruk, the monster, reliving their mundane lives.

And so the cycle of life, death and rebirth continues under a divine ordain. A remarkable feature of the play is the innovative and improvised orchestra.

Using common household items like bottles, jars, pots and pans, music is created and sounds are magically produced to beautifully complement the story. Even sounds of peeling of cello tape and crumpling of packaging waste is used creatively as background score.

The stagecraft is equally fascinating. The use of shadows, light, breeze, masks, costumes, puppetry are all done to brilliantly reveal the ethos of the setting and embellish the characters.

While the hallowed Ravindra Bharati would have staged hundreds of plays, very few would have used stagecraft so compellingly to add a great aura to the tale.

-JAYESH RANJAN

Tale of performance

Watching Performance Group TUIDA from Korea brought back the simple pleasures and possibilities of theatre. The simple story of an old childless couple who are granted a child Haruk leads the stage to literally become the blank canvas for different theatrical genres and styles to mesmerise and enthral. Improvisation was the key and the unusual minimal props continually evolved to the demands of both the stage and the story. Barriers of language and culture became irrelevant as the performance drew us right into its tragicomic world where each element was put forth in all its interpretive possibilities.

The audience is assured of redemption as Haruk acquires both linguistic and literal omnipresence which, towards the end, has also become another name for the performance, a chant on everyone’s lips.

-OLYMPIA BHATT

Hooked on Haruk

‘Haruk Haruked on Haruk’, a play of 60 minutes makes you perceive numerous meanings of this single word. Where jargon tremendously fails to fit in it was ‘Haruking’ that conquered hundreds of minds.

Narrative technique through the ease of handling a story with diverse meanings immersed in each move, experimental background score, beats on a bubble top, tweets of a cello tape, recycling and cycling of beer bottles, beads bring to surface a colourful timbre.

Vibrant colours magnetize our attention and the stage seems to evolve throughout the play. Haruk is the World itself, the self-reflective and self-destructive forces. The tragedy of Haruk is told in a comically nihilistic way that makes the flavours to savour for you and even the child in you.

Haruk symbolises the child who is spoiled and cosseted by parents, America in a worldly view, or even globalization where we live in a confined state. In short the play resonates with W. B. Yeats ‘Second Coming’

Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.

-RESMI BALAKRISHNAN

Worth watching again

The Tale of Haruk, a simple sounding story was executed in a beautiful manner which enthralled and awed the audience.

It was an amazing experience for the audience as well. The expressions were sharp, emphasizing every little emotion, but theway they modulated their voices showed their emotions.

The sound effects left the audience amazed. The usage of cello tape to give a tearing sound , and plastic for a rustling one, was really creative.

It was a play worth watching, both for children and adults. I really loved it and would love to watch it again.

-MAITREYEE BHAGWAT

For theatre buffs too

That the play staged by the Korean team on the first day of the theatre festival was well received could be judged from the applause it evoked. But for the discerning stage buff it also raised certain fundamental aspects of modern drama as is understood today.

Technically the play is a mix of mime, fantasy, short dialogues and movements set against a musical back drop. With minimal setting and props, music and lighting are used effectively to create the mood and carry the narration.

The most impressive part is the use of masks and the effects created using drapes. Also the use of unconventional items like empty water bottles, glass bottles and even the sound of pulling open an adhesive tape for producing sound effects was fascinating.The perfect synchronization of music and movements shows the hard work behind the effort.

The play is based on a Korean folk tale for children (as explained by the director during the interactive session) and has a message to convey.

The subtitles in English were helpful but sometimes repeated the action on stage which seemed unnecesary. The play needs not only actors, but skilled technicians as well, since the musicians playing the improvised instruments are an important part of the play. It was a metaphor for recycling, the director says.

The play reminded me the Theatre of the Absurd, in the repetitive routine of the boredom of the old childless couple. The message seems to be that Greed of Man, as symbolized by the prohibited morsel of rice eaten by the child Haruk, would result in all devouring hunger and destroy the world.

-A A RAMAMURTHY

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WINNER

Sohini Basu, our Best Citizen Reviewer for the play The Tale of Haruk staged on August 23, wins a ‘Meal for Two’. Congratulations Sohini!!

A blend at its best

Bae Yo-Sup presents a purely Korean popular theatre, conceptually and stylistically, resorting to such Western imports as surrealistic and Brechtian epic theatricality. His play is an interesting blend where the lines between Korean and Western, hilarious and serious, traditional and modern are creatively blurred. Perhaps this blend is the reason behind his favourable reception in the East and the West. Last evening’s play Tale of Haruk epitomizes Korean people and culture; passionate life-force empathy for the lonely; and the director’s ability to find abundant humour in emotionally-charged moments. The agility combined with simplicity of the actors in creating a world that is slowly disappearing from the metropolis, took the play to a greater height. The specialties from sound effects using common household objects, creative stagecraft to folk puppetry in the production are “haruk”-i (shining brightly in Japanese) in our minds.

SOHINI BASU

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MetroPlus Theatre Fest Citizen ReviewsAugust 19, 2014