"This play is not allowed to show. It does not make sense. Disapproval! Remove some parts of the script which lead to laughs." "At this difficult period, this pleasant play is in the wrong." A cold-hearted censor said these words repeatedly.
At Deahakro, a notable play is now being presented. Usually, a play does not guarantee box-office returns, however, the case of University of Laughs, is unlike other cases from the beginning of production.
One audience, Jo Shin-young said, "Truly, I came to see this play because of Hwang Jeong-min. Also, his appearance in the play is an unusual case. So, I wanted to see his act on the stage not on the screen." Actor Hwang Jeong-min, found not awkward in being called 'star' through various grossing films such as Sweet Life and You Are My Destiny, his appearance on stage draws theatergoers' interests and Song Young-chang guarantees fans anticipation towards his going out to Daehakro after a long interval.
From the unique title, theatergoers expect pleasant words and plot, and an ultimately cheerful play. A simple stage structure, only two characters, and unchangingbackground. Because of these somewhat dull play constituents, some may be able to think this play will be monotonous from superficial view. However, their projections were way off. While the play progresses, it moves the audience to the laughter and the audience come to find themselves laughing for 100 minutes.
For the Laughter, by the Laugh
The background of the play is Japan of World WarⅡ, 1940s. That is a tragic period when all lose their ability to laugh. Under the excuse of wartime, authorities restrain all comedies and strengthen censorship. In this situation, two different men are on the stage, one who does not know laughter and the other who models his entire life on laughter. Acting troupes University of Laughs applied for censorship to put on play which can offer laughter for audiences who are living in hard time. So, playwright belonging to University of Laughs, Tsubaki goes to censor Sakisaka to obtain permission for the new comedy. But, a stubborn censor thinks this comedy is not needed in this age and gives a flat refusal. In addition, the censor forces the author to leave out all scenes which contain laughter in the script. To gain permission, playwright revises the script getting all impossible requirements going through pulling and pushing one another than conflict for seven days. But as time goes by, more and more the censor was impressed by writer Tsubaki's passion and indulged fascination of comedy. And the censor participated in modifying the script, as a result the script is funnier instead. Through mutual response, they become mental companion in understanding each other utterly through the medium of comedy.
Stage setting was based on the original work, however, among these the director of University of Laughs, Lee Hae-jae said about the part which he makes an effort most, "In fact, Tsubaki explains all the role of direction in the play. Guide of Tsubaki, as it is." Actually, the stage was just one. In the middle of the stage, there is one table with two chairs, at the right side, front gate and large calendar and left side, stairs and viewing directly in front of stage, wide window and tree and leaves. And for props , a teapot, teacup and piled censored script are also taken its place. On the stage, this is all. This simple stage is filled with only two characters and tension. And in the last scene, writer and censor were sitting on the chair talking cheerfully. At the same time, table with chairs was going around in a circle shining a warm light on the turned red maple leaves beyond their back. And gradually stage was fading out. In this play, one and only playing a variation is the moment when one act was changed into another as the way of being torn off leaves of calendar by Tsubaki's hand and sometimes, by strange hand. Also, acts are turning over in the dark automatically. This method was preceded by being different from act whenever calendar is turned also. But, it is the real playing a variation that two actors' energy by acting barely any leaving in the stage during long running time.
Factors which bring out laughter existed in the play here and there. The first subject matter of laughter, crow entering the stage, Takoyaki, cage, and canary used for request of play approval are playing a role in helping censor express his code of laughter was inherent deeply in his mind.
Following the Footmark of University of Laughs
This play was based on Koki Mitani's comedy as director and author being famous for Welcome Mr. Macdonald. The original was a radio drama, then put on as a play and finally made into a movie. This movie was shown in 2005 Busan International Film Festival. Moreover, this was performed in Russia, Canada, and England. Because this play was set in Japan, various scenes appeared in play reflected Japan's color as it was. This color was expressed in these scenes; three horses called "The Emperor of Japan", "Majesty", "Cheers!" and the head of acting troupe put a sword into his mouth symbolizing self-disembowelment of chivalry of Japan. So, there are factors which rouse anti-Japanese sentiments. But, the play was faithful to the original work. About this decision, Programmer Jo Jae-hyun said, "Co-workers and I thought seriously about the adaptation. But this agony did not continue for a long time. I think University of Laughs is not just a comedy. Then, to make the most use of intention of writer, we decided the play would be as an original work without adaptation."
This play was coincided with the three unities; unity of action, unity of time, unity of place. This rule was set in ages of French acting. This rule is not kept well now, however, in this play, these rules are applied. Limited place and constant plot are sunk into this play closely. Settings such as limited place, limited time, and limited character are a consistently distinctive feature presented in Mitanis work. He has directed plays and productions as a "Comedy specialty dramatist" since 1983. On Oct. 24, because of meeting for announcement of production of University of Laughs, coming to Korea Mitani said that he would make endless comedies however few may laugh. University of Laughs starts from this Mitani's passion, however, this play did not stop being just convulsed with laughter. It was named after Kingdom of Laughs which existed in real as dramatic troupe in the past.
Laugh, Makes People Change
For 100 minutes, audience find themselves who have already laughed before one knows. In the play, the censor said that he is the person who does not know the way to make people laugh. But he became the person who makes the playwright laugh inadvertently. Like this, code of laughter lets a person's internal true character reveal and makes a person change. And in this play, the writer said that some people called him the writer compromising with the times. But, he did not yield to any absurd requirement which the times claim and not release code of laughter which he pursued really whatever that was 1,000 times or 10,000 times. He will be the real playwright who endeavors to keep up intrinsic nature indefatigably not being discouraged for real laugh.
The play, University of Laughs is a work of art including human relations in which communication is possible by sincerity and true heart. That is true aesthetics of laughter. University of Laughs does not guarantee success and recommend a job. But it makes a person aware of one losing fact. That is, the days when passing one's time idly is the days when not laughing. If you want to learn true laughter, don't hesitate to enter University of Laughs!