Life, Once Again! - Chapter 207
Ganghwan stood on the stage, lit by the lights above. It’s been a while since he last performed in a small theater, regardless, their play debuted tomorrow. Practice ended a while ago, but their schedule was pushed back a bit because of the theater suddenly getting rented away by someone else. Money always came first, after all. “Damn, actor Yang. Looking good under the light,” Miso said with a smile. “I know, I know.” “Get over here and have some coffee.”
Ganghwan took the paper cup from Miso, it was coffee from a famous brand. He looked at the cup of coffee as he asked a question. “How much were these again?” “Five thou.” “And how much is our theater’s ticket on a discount?” “Five thou.” “As I thought.” “What, does the coffee feel too expensive?” “No, I just feel like we need to work harder. The fact that this cup of coffee costs the same as a play that’s an hour and a half long is a very telling sign of how unpopular plays are. How sad is that?” “Why so depressed? That’s very unlike you.” “I don’t know, I’m just worried about money. I need to marry, I need to get a house, and I need to have a kid. The money I’m earning now is nowhere close to how much I’d need to support a family, I’ll have to start thinking more about saving up.” “Why don’t you make a girlfriend before any of that? Lose it with the strange stuff you’re doing too. Being insane is great for acting, but it’s not doing any favors for your love life.” “Hah, is there any woman that’d be willing to take care of me?” “Are you a child?” “Hey, don’t you know that no man ever truly grows up?” “Who cares.” Miso poked Ganghwan’s head with her index finger. Ganghwan looked at the stage, he didn’t dislike this life. He sacrificed everything to acting from a young age because he liked it. He found that working for a national theater company was far too boring, so he stepped out to join a smaller one. He built his reputation there and entered a famous theater company in Seoul. Problem was, Ganghwan just wasn’t a fan of working in groups. Working there gave him a lot more freedom than before, but he had very little personal time. Worse, he didn’t have a say on the plays he performed in. A pro gets paid on a monthly basis, acting for whatever play that gets assigned to them. Sometimes they needed to work perfectly despite their dislike for it, Ganghwan hated having to do that. It wasn’t like money wasn’t important, he just wanted to enjoy what he did to earn it. So, he stepped out of the theater company. Many of his friends told him he was crazy; he stepped out of a government-run theater company, and now, a famous theater company in Seoul. They asked what in the world he was planning on doing. Ganghwan responded, “acting”. Afterwards, he met Junmin and started working as a freelancer of sorts. When there was a role he wanted, he did his absolute best to get it. If he found a play he wanted to do, then he invested all his money to produce it. He had no problems living this way, but he did feel a little bad about it later down the line. After all, even famous actors are easily forgotten if they disappear from the spotlight for too long. “It’d be hard to live off of doing only the things I want to do, right?” Ganghwan put a hand over the stage floor. He was 32. He wasn’t that late in starting something new, but not that early either. Nowadays, everyone put their thoughts into action very quickly. He noticed a while back that even singers started acting nowadays. The term ‘actor’ no longer stood for ‘a person good at acting’, but rather ‘a person who acts’. Though of course, singers still didn’t have much influence over smaller theaters. They were usually put into musicals, massive plays, or dramas. Places where they would really shine. A senior of Ganghwan that never gave up on his dreams recently gave up after losing his role to an idol. The senior didn’t feel too bad about it, he just said that this was how the world worked. He couldn’t fight against the flow, so he just decided to go with it. The idols that entered the world of musicals got very bad reviews, they got insulted all over the internet. Looking at that, Ganghwan only felt that the industry really was flowing towards the singers. Idols create controversies. Controversies make money and the acting industry desperately needed money. The amount of money that a single idol could bring them was incredible. Despite their bad acting, musicals with idols in it always sold out. What in the world was going on? If the people were right when they said that musicals should’ve ended as an absolute failure. But looking at it from the big picture, it was a clear success. The senior who gave up on his dreams smiled bitterly after hearing the story. “Actors grow according to how many times they’ve been on stage. It’s the number of chances that they’ve been given that nurtures them. Keep watching. Those idols will soon be even better at acting than me.” The man was right. In a flash, those idols became good enough to act professionally. The criticism directed at them disappeared, decisive proof that these idols really were the new future. The industry didn’t let go of this, of course. They started recruiting more pretty idols to be on stage. The actors were very much against it, but who cares? Idols were where the money was. The bigger actors could still choose the people they would work with, but many actors had to act with idols that just slipped their way into the musical. “Maybe I should sing, too.” “You think that’s easy?” “A thirty-year-old idol. What do you think?” “What the hell? Yang Ganghwan, come back to your senses. You’re making no sense.” “I thought I was known as an oddball.” “But you’re not being funny. Saying funny odd things is definitely different from saying depressing odd things.” Miso sat down on the stage next to him. She was a good friend who instantly agreed to act with him. Despite the uppercut she gave him when he told her that he wouldn’t be able to pay her much, she still participated. “Alright, stop being dumb and think about the play tomorrow. That’s more like you.” “Hey, come on. I’m thirty. Can’t I start thinking about reality now? Are you trying to look down on me just because you have a boyfriend and the money?” “Yup. When you stepped out of the national theater, I worked in a factory. When you worked in that famous theater company in Seoul, I stepped on whatever stage I could find. Wouldn’t I feel bad if I still had less money than you after all that?” “Fine, Yang Miso. Good for you. I’m jealous, so jealous.” Ganghwan crushed the paper cup in his hand. He was feeling childish today, probably because he saw his senior just yesterday. The man asked him for a drink after a few years, saying that soldering made decent money. After one, two bottles of soju, the senior lay down on the table with a small mutter. – Why is life so boring? My life is stable, but there’s nothing special about it. Never come here, Ganghwan. If you’re going to die, just die there. Don’t be like me. Ganghwan didn’t believe people could truly give up on their dreams, because dreams always floated right in front of you, taunting you to come for it. If people say they gave up, it only meant that they closed their eyes. They’re just ignoring their dreams to the best of their ability, because they knew that if they opened their eyes, they’d go back to chasing for it. “Did you watch Cats?” Ganghwan asked. Miso nodded. “How was it? Was he good?” “Who? That idol called Getit or whatever?” “Yeah.” “Mm, yeah, he was. He was double casted and the audience went wild whenever he came out. I thought I was at a concert, I even found a person waving a glowstick. The staff took it away quickly, but… You know, I was surprised. So many young people watching the play with such passion… It kind of felt disappointing.” Miso was also an actress. She was mostly an instructor, but she was always ready to be on stage. Of course, she’d feel bitter about the idols. Especially after thinking of all the no-name actors that likely tried to get the role themselves. Miso took a sip of her coffee. “Five thou for a cup of coffee. As you said, people likely don’t come to see plays because they think it’s worth less than even this cup of coffee. Though, I do understand the mentality. The industry desperately wants to keep plays afloat and bringing in idols helps sell those tickets. That means they can pay their staff properly and plan out their next play as well. If I were in their shoes… I would’ve chosen idols as well because pride won’t feed you.” Miso looked straight into Ganghwan’s eyes before punching him straight in the stomach. “I can’t stand you of people being depressed, though! You look the most like yourself when you do what you want, so just don’t think about it. Just work harder. Hard enough, so that people start coming to see your plays for you, not those idols. Got it, actor Yang?” Ganghwan smiled, rubbing his stomach in pain. He was glad he had a friend like this. “Yup, I should just do my best.” Ganghwan stood up from his seat. He made a promise to himself back in the past, he would fill the national theater with audiences with just his name. It was a dream that wasn’t too grand, but it certainly wasn’t a small one either. A dream he’s forgotten about after all this time. “Just don’t disappear out of nowhere. It’d be troublesome if the main character disappears,” Miso said with a smile. “I won’t disappear when we still have a play on schedule.” “Of course, of course.” “Ah, I got a call from Senior Junmin. They’re going to start filming soon.” “I heard about the audition as well. Think they’re making posts about it on the internet right now.” “There’s going to be so many people from the rumors alone, especially since this is going to be a big one.” “I think Junmin’s spreading those rumors on purpose. Besides, I heard most of the actors that got the script said they’d do it as well.” “As expected of Senior Moonjoong, huh.” “Or Senior Junmin. He’s pretty remarkable with people after all.” “It’s not the budget that’s on a blockbuster level… it’s the cast.” “Damn it, I would’ve auditioned if it wasn’t for this,” Miso said, tapping the floor. “You’re only saying that because I’m here, aren’t you?” “Of course I am.” “I’ll pay you more if we sell a lot of tickets, will that do?” “Eh? That’s it?” “What do you mean that’s it? I’m almost bankrupt as is.” “Man, you’re incredible.” “You literally just told me to live like this!” “Blah blah, do what you want.” Miso shrugged. “Ah, did you hear? I heard the new instructor of that high school you used to teach is Ms. Suyeon.” “…What?” Miso’s expression turned feral in an instant, maybe he should’ve kept his mouth shut about this? “Did you… have a bad relationship?” “I’d be surprised if anyone had a good relationship with that woman. Give me a second, I’m going to call Junmin right now.” Miso stepped out with a huff, Ganghwan scratched his head for a second before smiling. “Whatever. She’ll take care of it.”
* * * Suyeon looked at her phone with furrowed eyebrows. There was a name she didn’t want to see on her screen. Why was this woman calling her so early in the day? She picked up the call with a frown but still made her voice to sound as bright as possible. “Oh my, Ms. Miso. Did you need anything?” – Let me just ask you one thing. Are you instructing Woosung High’s acting club? “Yes. Why?” – I understand. The call hung up. Suyeon closed her phone with a deepened frown, she really didn’t like this Miso woman.
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