Korean queer musical '13 Fruitcakes' heads to Edinburgh - The Korea Times

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Korean queer musical '13 Fruitcakes' heads to Edinburgh

A scene from new queer musical '13 Fruitcakes,' which will be staged during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe next year / Courtesy of Singing Actors Repertory Company
A scene from new queer musical '13 Fruitcakes,' which will be staged during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe next year / Courtesy of Singing Actors Repertory Company

By Kwon Mee-yoo

"13 Fruitcakes," a Korean musical paying tribute to renowned LGBTQ+ figures and their impact in history, will head to Edinburgh Festival Fringe next year, following its premiere in New York in June.

Written and directed by Ahn Byung-koo of the Singing Actors Repertory Company, "13 Fruitcakes" is a series of experimental musical vignettes filled with symbolic movements traveling along the history of queer figures.

Composer Lee Gi-hieh, who has written music for queer poet's works including Oscar Wilde, Walt Whitman, Arthur Rimbaud and Federico Garcia Lorca, wrote the song cycle. The show is also accompanied with electronic music by the Los Angeles Laptop Collective.

The show is narrated by Orlando, a character inspired by Virginia Woolf's novel "Orlando: A Biography" and played by Korean drag performer More Zimin. More also wrote the poem "Blood, Mindlessly" for the vignette dedicated to Woolf and her lover Vita Sackville-West.

The show begins with a brief description of New York in 1964, when the city's mayor tried to clean up the city's image ahead of the World's Fair by sweeping the homeless, drug addicts, prostitutes and gay people off the streets. Orlando tells people to fight against social injustice and oppression by telling the stories of noteworthy queer figures.

A scene from new queer musical '13 Fruitcakes,' which will be staged during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe next year / Courtesy of Singing Actors Repertory Company
A scene from new queer musical '13 Fruitcakes,' which will be staged during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe next year / Courtesy of Singing Actors Repertory Company

Orlando and his "fruitcakes" travel through the time from Harmodius and Aristogeiton in the 6th century B.C. and King Hyegong of Silla Kingdom in the 8th century to more recent 20th century figures such as American novelist Gertrude Stein and her partner of 38 years Alice B. Toklas and the English mathematician Alan Turing.

The show premiered at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club in New York City in June. The New York show was part of the Stonewall 50 celebrations, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots, a pivotal beginning of the fight for LGBT rights in the U.S. The show was picked as one of the events to commemorate Pride Month by the New York Times.

Ahn previously directed a Korean adaptation of "Hamlet" at LaMama in 2011 and returned to the experimental theater with an ode to great queer figures.

"I am very excited to come back to La MaMa next month with this new production. When I did research on the Stonewall Riots, people say somehow the air that day was different from before, even though it was a routine police raid, and on this occasion they did not submit to the police. I wanted to create what the 'different air' that day might have been. I am very attached to this project more than any I have worked on before," Ahn said in a statement ahead of the New York show.

"13 Fruitcakes" is chosen for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Korean Season and will head to the Scottish capital next year. Co-organized by AtoBiz and Assembly, the Korean Season presents a selection of Korean performances, ranging from a percussion show to dance piece, during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Celebrating the fifth year of the program, four shows presented during the previous festivals and "13 Fruitcakes" were staged in Seoul's Baekam Art Hall for four days last week.
A scene from new queer musical '13 Fruitcakes,' which will be staged during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe next year / Courtesy of Singing Actors Repertory Company
A scene from new queer musical '13 Fruitcakes,' which will be staged during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe next year / Courtesy of Singing Actors Repertory Company

By Kwon Mee-yoo

"13 Fruitcakes," a Korean musical paying tribute to renowned LGBTQ+ figures and their impact in history, will head to Edinburgh Festival Fringe next year, following its premiere in New York in June.

Written and directed by Ahn Byung-koo of the Singing Actors Repertory Company, "13 Fruitcakes" is a series of experimental musical vignettes filled with symbolic movements traveling along the history of queer figures.

Composer Lee Gi-hieh, who has written music for queer poet's works including Oscar Wilde, Walt Whitman, Arthur Rimbaud and Federico Garcia Lorca, wrote the song cycle. The show is also accompanied with electronic music by the Los Angeles Laptop Collective.

The show is narrated by Orlando, a character inspired by Virginia Woolf's novel "Orlando: A Biography" and played by Korean drag performer More Zimin. More also wrote the poem "Blood, Mindlessly" for the vignette dedicated to Woolf and her lover Vita Sackville-West.

The show begins with a brief description of New York in 1964, when the city's mayor tried to clean up the city's image ahead of the World's Fair by sweeping the homeless, drug addicts, prostitutes and gay people off the streets. Orlando tells people to fight against social injustice and oppression by telling the stories of noteworthy queer figures.

A scene from new queer musical '13 Fruitcakes,' which will be staged during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe next year / Courtesy of Singing Actors Repertory Company
A scene from new queer musical '13 Fruitcakes,' which will be staged during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe next year / Courtesy of Singing Actors Repertory Company

Orlando and his "fruitcakes" travel through the time from Harmodius and Aristogeiton in the 6th century B.C. and King Hyegong of Silla Kingdom in the 8th century to more recent 20th century figures such as American novelist Gertrude Stein and her partner of 38 years Alice B. Toklas and the English mathematician Alan Turing.

The show premiered at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club in New York City in June. The New York show was part of the Stonewall 50 celebrations, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots, a pivotal beginning of the fight for LGBT rights in the U.S. The show was picked as one of the events to commemorate Pride Month by the New York Times.

Ahn previously directed a Korean adaptation of "Hamlet" at LaMama in 2011 and returned to the experimental theater with an ode to great queer figures.

"I am very excited to come back to La MaMa next month with this new production. When I did research on the Stonewall Riots, people say somehow the air that day was different from before, even though it was a routine police raid, and on this occasion they did not submit to the police. I wanted to create what the 'different air' that day might have been. I am very attached to this project more than any I have worked on before," Ahn said in a statement ahead of the New York show.

"13 Fruitcakes" is chosen for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Korean Season and will head to the Scottish capital next year. Co-organized by AtoBiz and Assembly, the Korean Season presents a selection of Korean performances, ranging from a percussion show to dance piece, during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Celebrating the fifth year of the program, four shows presented during the previous festivals and "13 Fruitcakes" were staged in Seoul's Baekam Art Hall for four days last week.
Kwon Mee-yoo meeyoo@koreatimes.co.kr


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