Thursday, February 24, 2011

Korean Catholic Attempt at Theater

The Catholic Church of Korea in recent years has been trying to get more involved in the cultural aspects of the country, and one important aspect of  culture is the theater. A priest from Jeju-do has started a theater company and is presently preparing the script for his forthcoming play on the life of Cardinal Kim, " Cardinal A Fool."  It will be presented at the end of the month to commemorate the second anniversary of the Cardinal's death on Feb. 16.

The company was started in 2008, with the musical on the life of St. Paul: "Imago Dei" (lmage of God). It had a successful run with over 126 performances and over 27,000 spectators. Their second production, "He Gave his  Heart," enacted the life of St. John Vianney. This production went to 80 parishes, with 135 performances and 35,000 spectators, a response beyond the world of the Catholics.

On the company's first anniversary, the priest founder mentioned the difficulties of starting a theater company in Korea:  Catholics were skeptical, some not knowing that the play was being performed in their parish, his fellow priests offering little or no encouragement, and the members of his team disappointed by the  lack of interest. The priest and his team, however, are not put off by this general disinterest; they feel that the Church needs their entry into the theater culture of Korea, to provide another voice in spreading the Gospel.

The problems they will encounter will be many. The finances necessary to put together a team to stage one of these productions is staggering. But it's obvious, also, that those willing to get involved in this kind of enterprise are seeing the benefits for the Church, which empowers them to put up with a great deal of misunderstandings and non-cooperation. The Korean Church has progressed to where she can think of other ways  to proclaim the  message. And efforts in music, literature and theater have begun. The hope is that these cultural excursions of the Church will bear fruit, and in time be a force for good in our society.

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