This work justifies its existence as a separate entity to the film; it feels wholly original.
Every scene is alive, more vivid than the original film…
The best original musical of the year. The poetic music and elegant staging are of the highest calibre. The production embraces cinematic aesthetics; yet in skillfully translating these into the grammar of the stage, it delivers a unique entertainment.
When Taehee shelters under Inwoo’s umbrella in a rainstorm, Inwoo falls for her instantly. He claims that not even death will part them. But when he has to leave on military service, Taehee never turns up to say farewell. Seventeen years later, Inwoo is a teacher and is married to a different woman. But he finds himself drawn towards a boy in his class, whose character is uncannily similar to that of Taehee… and this time, Inwoo is determined not to let go.
Director Adrian Osmond
Associate Director 이재준
Assistant Director 박선아
Orchestrator Will Aronson
Music Director / Conductor 주소연
Assistant Music Director 최상미
Set Designer 정승호
Lighting Designer 백시원
Costume Designer 오유경
Sound Designer 강국현
Make-up & Hair Designer 김남선
Prop Designer 최영은
Technical Director 원영돈
Production Stage Manager 김지명
Executive Producer 한해영
General Manager 김민성
Production Manager 양윤나
Assistant Set Designer 권보라
Stage Manager 송희정
Assistant Stage Manager 김태진
The shame for English-speakers is that a film as tender and remarkable as 번지점프를 하다 is lumbered with such an uninspiring title in English: A Bungee Jump Of Their Own. A literal translation of the Korean – “Doing a Bungee Jump” – doesn’t improve it; and the story has nothing to do with bungee jumping anyway, beyond the need to have faith, and leap…
Bungee Jump begins as a sweet-natured comic romance, but slowly turns into a searing, passionate drama. Not only does it tackle the subject of a teacher becoming obsessed with a student, it is also one of the first Korean films to openly address homosexuality.
The story begins in an ordinary, everyday world. A man is holding an umbrella in the rain, and a woman runs underneath it for protection. Couldn’t this happen to any of us, at any time? Yet Bungee also reaches beyond the normal realm of experience, and moves towards greater questions, ones that cannot be answered easily. It asks, what is eternal about love? Can a deep and true connection really disappear with death? And can you choose whom you fall in love with? This story delves into the pain that still sears through the passage of time, and the opportunities that slip out of reach. A simple resolution won’t be found here; being true to your innermost feelings can inflict real damage on those around you. Bungee Jump reminds us of the power of the heart – and how that power cannot be denied.
When I was asked to adapt and direct Bungee as a musical, alongside Will Aronson and Hue Park, the overriding aim was to give this story even greater impact on the stage than on the screen. Rather than aspiring towards spectacle, designer Seung Ho Jeong and I sought to pare everything back, to enable the emotional connection between the audience and the characters to be absolute. Despite the large venue, we wanted to draw the audience in through attention to detail (this is a story in which the tying of a shoelace, the extending of a finger, and the flickering flame of a lighter all have great significance).
The wings were filled to bursting with set and props, yet the images onstage often felt spare and open. We wanted to provide space around each scene to help express the absence of what was once there. At the end of Act One, Inwoo stands alone on a train platform, about to leave on military service. He is waiting for Taehee; but she never arrives. Because military service is compulsory in Korea, every man in our audience had once stood on that same platform; so Inwoo’s heightened emotions were ones with which people could easily connect. Any physical depiction of the station would have diminished the scene’s impact; so we left the stage bare, with Inwoo isolated, except for a sequence of lights that sped along the lip of the stage to give the impression of the train pulling away.
The venue’s wide stage allowed us to have more than one scene occurring simultaneously, and this enabled connections to resonate across the story’s two time periods. Scenes could appear around Inwoo and drift away, with the audience increasingly experiencing the action from his perspective. Near the beginning of Act Two, as the identities of Taehee and the student Hyunbin fuse together in Inwoo’s mind, these two characters crossed behind Inwoo and brushed past each other in the street. This moment may not sound like much, and it was easy to execute; but in the theatre it created a real thrill.
When Inwoo’s psyche reaches breaking point, there is a musical sequence in which different groups of characters condemn his actions. As Inwoo loses his job and home, his colleagues, students, friends and wife all turn against him. Here we were able to shift the action through four locations, with the open stage becoming a more abstract representation of Inwoo’s turmoil, as the fury of the characters combined and threatened to overwhelm him.
And then he was cut adrift, abandoned and left isolated… save for the lone voice of one student, in the far distance, still proclaiming to have faith in his teacher.