• Pansori

See here and below for more information and links about the wonderful Korean performance art form of Pansori, but first some brief details of a Pansori based performance at the Southbank Centre in London:

Pansori, with its themed stories, is a form of musical theatre recognised by UNESCO.
The performers Pansori Project ‘ZA’ bring these Korean songs of love and satire to the stage with Pansori Brecht SACHEON-GA. This work is made from the endeavour of creating a modern Pansori, one which matches the spirit of our times and whose narrative style is integrated with modern dramatic elements.

In transforming Brecht’s epic drama The Good Woman of Sezchuan, the emphasis is to revive the theme of social criticism and the narrative manner of his work in a Pansori style.

This performance is brought to you by the Korean Cultural Centre UK (KCCUK) and the Korean Culture and Information Service (KOCIS) with the kind support of the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

Please note that this event is being accompanied by English subtitles.

I have said elsewhere that “anyone interested in the art of performance should take advantage of any – probably rare if you’re not in Korea – opportunities to see a live Pansori performance”.

If this was a performance of one of the five main Pansori I wouldn’t hesitate to twist the arms of people interested in performance to go to this: I have started to describe here my experience of Pansori.

This won’t be a straight Pansori performance: apart from the usual singer/storyteller and drummer there are two other musicians and three actors, so I don’t know how well it will work, and whether it will convey how great Pansori can be. But using a more familiar story for us in England may help, and there aren’t many chances to see anything like Pansori in London.

So a slightly hesitant but persistant recommendation, particularly to those interested in different types of performance.

Some thoughts on Pansori

For some time I have been meaning to write an article on the Korean art form Pansori, to be precise an article titled:

“An eccentric beginner(‘)s(‘) guide to Pansori”

What prompted this was my seeing Im Kwon-Taek’s films Chunhyang and (especially) Sopyonje, and seeing five live full Pansori performances in five days at the Edinburgh Festival in August.2003.

A quote from the actor Fiona Shaw in 2003 previewing these Edinburgh performances (she was due to play Arkadina in Chekhov’s The Seagull): “If I wasn’t performing, I’d see my lovely friend Ian Bostridge in Handel’s Poro, and also the Korean company, Pansori. They are bringing over five different epics, all called things like The Saga of the Underwater Palace, all about four hours long. I think the notion of a performer who is a singer and an actor and a percussionist is fascinating. Festivals are all about seeing the unseeable, dreaming the undreamable.”

After seeing those Edinburgh performances, I was – and still am – convinced that Pansori is one of the greatest art forms of the world: it has the range and emotional depth of Shakespeare’s plays, but is far more economical – just two performers: a singer/storyteller who has a single “prop”, a fan, and a drummer with just one drum, who will occasionally shout encouragements to the singer/storyteller.

But I’ve just found out that there is a talk on Pansori, so in the meantime information about that.

This event isn’t a Pansori peformance, but one thing that interests me very much is people from one culture learning and performing arts from a different culture, so I’d be going even if it wasn’t a lecture on Pansori.

  • Pansori lecture at the Korean Culturel Centre (just off Trafalgar Square: entrance is about three minutes walk down Northumberland Avenue towards the Thames) – Tuesday 3 July 2012 at 18:30

    Full information at from which the following is an extract (ie it doesn’t have the picture):

    Following last week’s lecture on Korean literature, the KCCUK gives us another interesting introductory lecture:
    Korean Pansori and Western Performer Training

    DATE: Tuesday 3 July 2012 18.30
    VENUE: Korean Cultural Centre UK
    Speaker: Dr. Tara McAllister-Viel, Head of Voice
    East 15 School of Acting (University of Essex)

    Celebrating our 2012 summer festival, ‘All Eyes on Korea’, Korean Cultural Centre UK is hosting a series of lectures to support and compliment our programme of events. For this, Music lecturer Dr. Tara McAllister-Viel will have talks on P’ansori, Korean traditional musical drama.

    P’ansori is a unique form of art, which is unfamiliar in the west. Like the ‘blues’ sound which is linked to particular types of emotions the ‘sori’ of P’ansori is well suited for the performance representation of ‘han,’ or ‘grief.’ Furthermore, today’s P’ansori artists continue to experiment with forms and creating intercultural performances from standard Korean texts in translation, or developing original P’ansori story-songs that address modern topics.

    Dr. Tara McAllister-viel will share her experience of implementing the Korean traditional vocal art form, P’ansori into an original voice curriculum. This lecture introduces key principles and practices of Korean P’ansori and contrasts the styles of vocal training and performance with Western actor training. The lecture will result in a better understanding of the rich traditions of P’ansori, as well as offering a glimpse at the exciting developments in this evolving art form.

    Please send us your RSVP to or Phone 0207 004 2600

    Dr. Tara McAllister-Viel is Head of Voice at East 15 School of Acting (University of Essex). Previously, she was Visiting Professor-Voice at The Korean National University of Arts, School of Drama, (Seoul, Korea) leading the voice programmes for the graduate and undergraduate conservatoire acting courses. Over the course of four years, Tara designed and implemented original voice curriculum integrating Western voice training with a Korean traditional P’ansori. She studied privately with Human Cultural Treasures Han Nong Son and Song Uhyang.


About Colin Bartlett

I'm interested in arts, mathematics, science. Suliram is a partial conflation of the names of three good actors: Ira Aldridge, Anna May Wong, and another. My intention is to use a personal experience of arts to make some points, but without being too "me me me" about it. And to follow Strunk's Elements of Style. Except that I won't always "be definite": I prefer Niels Bohr's precept that you shouldn't write clearer than you think.
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2 Responses to Pansori

  1. Pingback: An eccentric beginner(‘)s(‘) guide to Pansori | Suliram – some ideas on arts

  2. Pingback: Pansori Campaign – two films in late October and early November 2012 | Suliram – some ideas on arts

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