Life, Once Again! - Chapter 70
“Yo . I went to take a smoke yesterday, and fuck, I saw the gym teacher outside, right? He was beating up the kids behind the building . Shit was insane . ”
“That fucker’s crazy . The guy probably comes here just to beat kids up . ”
The kids said with a shiver, even Changhu knew the gym teacher . The one teacher whose background was incredibly enigmatic . It’d be more believable if the school told them they just hired a gangster to do some dirty work . After all, the teacher beat up students pretty much whenever he felt like it . Already, many of the first years were sacrificed to the man’s PVC pipe .
“We really have to be careful of that guy . He’s crazy . ”
Changhu had to nod in agreement . There was a reason why engineering schools had a bad rep . It was exactly because of teachers like them .
“Ah, I heard Dansu was taking us to karaoke today . You guys coming?”
“Dansu? Him? Why?”
“I heard a kind idiot gave him some money today . ”
“Hah, kind idiot? He found himself a nice wallet, didn’t he? Oh, by the way, I saw a lot of middle school kids hanging out near the karaoke . They just spit out money if we talk to them a little . ”
“Wow, you’re stooping that low?”
“They have a lot of cash . ” “Oh, really? Nice . ”
Middle schoolers were quick to part with their money with a little bit of encouragement . They would often even cry if you had a cigarette in your mouth .
“I managed to buy a new MP3 with that money, you know . These kids have a lot of money nowadays, heh . ”
Changhu’s friend took out an MP3 that was worth around 300,000 won from his pocket . It actually looked pretty nice . Changhu fiddled with his pretty new MP3 before grinning .
“Huh, I should change mine too . ”
Especially if there was such a good fishing spot near school .
“In any case . ”
Changhu looked at Maru, who was sleeping at his desk . The guy would often rebel at him, which was pretty annoying at times . Of course, Dojin was the really annoying guy of the two . He wanted to beat both of them pretty badly, but now really didn’t seem like the time . Especially since he knew Dojin would bite back .
“Oh, did you hear?”
“I heard this as I was drinking with a second year, but apparently the acting club had a problem last year . ”
“Apparently they almost burned down the school, so the teachers all harbor a dislike of the club . ”
Changhu thought back of an incident that happened a few days ago . The teacher had hit Dojin across the head, muttering ‘this is why acting club kids are…’ to himself .
“Is that so . ”
Weren’t these guys going to some competition this time? They probably wouldn’t be able to go if there happened to be an unfortunate accident . How nice .
“Hey, Dojin,” he called out . The boy immediately turned to look at him with a frown .
“Be careful of fires . I heard there was an accident? You have to be careful, don’t you?”
“ . . . . . . . ”
Dojin immediately grit his teeth . Oh? This really must be the other boy’s weak point .
“Let’s be careful, okay?”
Changhu immediately felt his shoulders loosen up a bit more .
* * *
“You endured well,” Maru said, patting Dojin on the back . Dojin looked like he chewed on something bitter .
“How’d he manage to learn about that?”
“He probably heard it somewhere . He has a good head on his shoulders, so he’ll probably try to use it against you . ”
Changhu wasn’t like a typical delinquent at all, the boy knew exactly how communities worked . Now that he knew their weak point, he would start trying to test the waters to see how far he could go with this .
“If it wasn’t for the competition… Ugh!”
Dojin punched his palm with a fist . He must care about the club a lot, seeing how he managed to endure all of this still .
“You just need to lay low for a bit . He’ll grow tired of it soon enough . ”
“But what about my pride? I can’t even dare imagine having to lay low in front of that kid . ”
“You’re really going to be angered by someone like him? You need to get over stuff like this . You’re an adult . ”
“ . . . Well, true . ”
“That’s enough then, isn’t it?”
Maru dragged Dojin up the stairs . After coming up to the fifth floor, the three of them opened the door to the auditorium where could they see Miso standing amongst all the students .
“Get over here!” Miso shouted .
Maru ran over, thinking that the fun was just about to start .
“We’re going to stretch a bit before going straight in . We’re also going to be making our props and costumes today, so you better be ready . ”
“Alright, mouth muscles, go . ”
The students began stretching their mouths individually once Miso gave them the go ahead . Some of them stretched their mouth widely to loosen up the muscles there, and others moved their tongue all over the place to stress that too . Some even worked their lips a little bit .
“Haaah . . . ”
They shouted loudly to open up their vocal cords, and then let out air to open up their nostrils . Maru followed suit . It wasn’t that difficult, since he’d seen them do this many times before . Actually, it almost felt like he learned this in the past . Maybe he attended an acting lesson when he was a road manager? In any case, this definitely didn’t feel like the first time .
Next up, it was time to stretch the rest of their muscles . The club members stood in a circle, and started walking slowly . One step every ten seconds . They were making sure that when they walked, that their balance wasn’t lost, their arms were in the right place, and that their feet were landing in the right places . Unlike what it looked like, this practice actually required a lot of concentration .
The club members returned to their normal pace once Miso clapped .
“Phew . ”
The kids sighed in relief, but then .
“Why are you sighing?! Pay attention to your breathing!” Miso immediately shouted .
The air in the auditorium had turned incredibly heavy . After around ten more minutes of this, the club members split up to start stretching on their own .
Oftentimes in small theaters, actors were very close to the audience . But in larger ones, especially the one in Dream Hall, it was difficult to discern the audience’s faces . That’s why actors were often required to make very large movements, have very clear diction, and a very loud voice .
In everyday life, it was possible for people to make out emotions just from the way a person blinked, or the way their lips twitched . But being on a stage made it difficult to make out such expressions . Oftentimes, overreacting to everything looked just right to the audience from the stage . That was the reason why many actors reached out for the sky or whatnot during their monologues .
Small movements, as a matter of fact, only served to frustrate the audience . No matter what role you were playing, it was essential that you act “big” .
“Come here, we’re going to do one reading before practicing our movement . ”
As the club members started doing the readings without their scripts, Miso moved around with her green tape, marking out boundaries on the stage . Of course, the club members knew exactly what she was doing at this point .
“This is the size of the stage in the Ansan Art Hall . The competition will take place there in October . It was built fairly recently, so the stage is pretty big, and they have a lot of tools we can use . But! The big stage will be a minus for you guys . The play will look really bad on stage if your movements are even a little bit off . I’ll take you there next time, so just be aware for now that it’s about this big . ”
Last time in the competition, the club competed at the Suwon Art Center . It was not a place designated to house plays, but at an auditorium meant for various events . But this time, things were different . They were performing a play at an actual place meant for plays .
“So it’s bigger than the . . . ”
“College competition? Of course . ”
“Hah . ”
The club members sighed, looking at the green tape below them .
“It’s now October 18th, we have exactly a month left . I have already registered us for the competitions, and there isn’t going to be a prelim this time around, since this is more of a festival . Most teams are there to have fun . We’re different, though . We’re here to win . We’re going to win over there, and we’re going to win at the winter competition in December . Understood?”
Miso stretched out her hand with a clap .
“Ok, let’s cheer ourselves up before we actually go into this . ”
The club members all stretched out their hands in unison . Maru put his hand on in the middle as well . This was the first time he was taking part in something like this . He didn’t feel anything big rising up in his chest, but he did smile .
Finally, he was a step inside the circle .
Practice began shortly after .
* * *
Dalseok-dong was a fictional town, a suburban town that was right between the farmlands and the city .
“On top of a big hill lies a little town . The road up the hill is littered with the occasional streetlights, with no trees in sight . The old streetlights are leaning a little forward, threatening to snap, while being covered with all sorts of posters stuck on them . ”
Maru closed his eyes, listening to Miso talk . He was trying to imagine the setting, trying to immerse himself enough to become one of Dalseok-dong’s residents .
“You’ll be able to see a house next to one of these lights . The glass door that leads inside is so dirty that you actually can’t see in any more . There are small windows for the basement floor next to this glass door, and you notice yellow curtains draped inside . This house has three floors . Basement, first floor, and second floor, its exterior made out of feeble brown bricks that appear ready to crumble . Inside, you hear the scoldings of an overbearing wife, the sighs of a student preparing for college entrance exams, and the embarrassed introductions of a new couple . I hear a dog barking in the background as well . What about cats?”
Yoonjung answered with ‘I think I can hear them too’ .
“Well, there must be cats around as well, then . Next to that house is a little store with a blue roof . Inside it, an old couple is arguing with each other yet again today . Granny?”
Soyeon immediately stepped up to speak . She was an old lady that lost her dentures, acting seamlessly in her role, which made Maru laugh a little .
“What about the grandpa?”
“You old hag! You’re spouting bullshit today again!”
It was Taejoon . His voice carried a lot of annoyance . Understandable for someone who received a whack in the back of the head in the midst of a chess game . Again, some laughter .
Miso closed her mouth for a second . In the meantime, Maru worked to clarify the image of Dalseok-dong in his head . The others were probably doing the same . After about five minutes…
“Stop,” Miso said .
“Try to clarify the image of your characters, using the image of the town you have . You need a very clear image in your head . ”
“Yes . ”
“Okay, let’s go straight in with the movement . We’re going to slowly figure this out from scene one, so make sure to take notes . We’re going to practice this once, and go straight into doing runs . ”
They had to finish the play before October . It was understandable that their practices would be rushed . After all, they had only a single month to do this . Just because the Anyang Art Festival was a passing competition did not justify an incomplete play . Plus, Miso wouldn’t accept that for the life of her .
Maru stood outside the green tape with a pen in one hand, and a script in the other .
‘Well, so I really ended up doing this, huh . ’
Today especially, that steel chair he used to sit on at the end of the auditorium felt far away from him . Right now, he was a part of the club for real .
‘Might as well go to the finals, at the very least . ’
He was certain that she would go to the finals . He knew that for sure, somehow . They would meet once again upon the stage .
“Maru! Stop grinning and focus!”
Maru fixed his expression immediately .