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Understanding of Media in Yoo Chi-jin’s Drama Theory and its Relationship with the Structure of Feeling in 1930s Theater

Lee Kwang ouk 1

1서울대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This essay mainly studies Yoo Chi-jin`s early dramas and criticisms in order to examine the transformation of realism theory as a method for expressing his understanding of tragedy. The core of Yoo Chi-jin`s early drama theory was based on Romain Rolland’s work in Drama for the People, which presented the progressive drama movement that is performed outside of the field of cultural industry. However, because Yoo’s artistic activities became gradually based in the indoor theater, he became distant from the ideal open-space public form of ‘drama for the people’. Nevertheless, Yoo Chi-jin did not give up pursuing the ideal of the ‘drama for the people’ even in the compromised form that was the indoor theater, and contemplated on the differences between drama and cinema - the rival mediums of indoor theater during the colonial era. In his theoretical works that came out of this contemplation, he emphasized the concept called ‘popularity of drama’, and this concept provided for the medium aesthetics that could only be attained from theater drama. Because he accepted the discourses based on realism as the primary target for the modern drama, Yoo Chi-jin valued the tragic representation. Yoo’s early drama represented the tragedy of Chosun in the colonial era, because it took to sketching the dark side of society as frankly as possible. But most importantly, Yoo focused on the tragic representation because it could evoke the emotional communications that can coincide with his understanding of the drama aesthetics. Also, the fact that his play Tomak (the Mud hut) was published and performed when the ‘tomak’, which is a kind of a housing for the poor, came to be regarded as important social symbol, could be the evidence for his concerns about the far-reaching social powers evoked by the topical material. But Yoo’s contemporary audience of Keukyeon (an academic circle for the study of dramatic arts), which was an organization of mainly urban-middle class intellectuals, were psychologically distant from the images of poverty in the country that were represented on stage, and Yoo’s reconsideration of his former works shows his dissatisfaction with the result of the tragic communication that he had hoped for. Primarily, Yoo felt that the trouble of communication stemmed from the problem of Keukyeon`s audience who could not accept Yoo’s representation of tragedy as their own. But the more fundamental problem came from Yoo’s naturalistic and superficial dramaturgy, and this can be seen as the problem of textualism. This problem brought to the foreground the audience`s psychological distance from the represented object on the stage, and it showed the weakness of the playwriter’s superficial recognition of the social reality. Therefore, Yoo could not help but develop a method to overcome these issues. Yoo suggested the way of reflecting the structural contradictions of the colonial Chosun as a method to communicate with Keukyeon`s intellectual fandom. He wanted to express a deeper understanding for the colonial Chosun in Binminga (the Slums) and Soh (the Cow). These plays showed the motifs of social struggle in such implicit manners like the allegorical setting and the satirical humor. But the plan to play them was banned by the Imperial Japan’s censorship, which made Yoo’s new method fundamentally impracticable. Consequently, the methods such as Romanticism or the Historical Drama that Yoo championed after mid-1930s need to be studied in conjunction with the method for figuring out the trans-class structure of the feeling as the pre-suppositional condition for the active dramatic communications.

Citation status

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