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Actor Sung Hoon makes stage debut in comedy 'Art'

Feb. 28, 2024 - 15:18 By Hwang Dong-hee
Actors Park Eun-seok (left) and Sung Hoon perform a scene from "Art" during a press rehearsal on Tuesday. (Double K Entertainment)

When Marc visits the home of his friend Serge, he is taken aback by a recent acquisition -- a large and very expensive "blank" painting with a few fine white lines etched onto a white canvas.

This peculiar artwork becomes a source of concern for three longtime friends -- Serge, Marc and Yvan. Their friendship is strained by their differing opinions on art, leading to heated bickering, estrangement and then reconciliation.

The comedy play, titled "Art," filled with delightful banter among the trio, kicked off on Feb. 13 at the Link Arts Center in Jongno-gu, Seoul. Written by French playwright Yasmina Reza, the three-person play premiered in Paris in 1994 and has been staged in Korea since 2003.

Sung Hoon performs a scene from "Art" during a press rehearsal on Tuesday. (Double K Entertainment)

Actor Sung Hoon, known for his roles in “Perfect Marriage Revenge” (2023), “New Tales of Gisaeng” (2011) and the MBC hit variety show " I Live Alone," made his theatrical debut portraying Serge in this production.

“I have wanted to do theater for a long time but the opportunity never arose. This time, thanks to (Kim) Su-ro, I received an offer,” Sung said at a press conference Tuesday.

Sung characterized the play as one where some in the audience laugh while others contemplate when watching the same scene. The play offers a different experience according to the theatergoer's age and life experience, he explained.

Saying he would have preferred a small part for his theater debut, he said, "It is a three-person drama so I declined the role twice. But Su-ro persuaded me to take it and I am grateful for that."

Actor Kim Su-ro is the executive producer of "Art."

(From left) Actors Lee Pil-mo, Park Ho-san and Um Ki-joon perform a scene from "Art" during a press rehearsal on Tuesday. (Double K Entertainment)

Director Sung Jong-wan remarked that the play “captures moments when men occasionally become childish.”

In particular, he noted that each of the three characters -- Serge, Marc and Yvan -- is performed by four different actors. These actors fall into “distinct” generations, ranging from a trio of emerging talents such as Jin Tae-hwa, Son You-dong and Kim Ji-chul; Sung Hoon, Park Eun-seok and Lee Kyung-wook; and seasoned veterans like Um Ki-joon, Lee Pil-mo and Park Ho-san who are also active on screen.

"The actors differ in age. If we liken the youngest cast combination to elementary school students, as the age progresses, we can categorize them as middle school, high school and college students."

(From left) Actors Son You-dong, Kim Ji-chul and Jin Tae-hwa perform a scene from "Art" during a press rehearsal on Tuesday. (Double K Entertainment)

As the combination of actors changes, even when the same lines are delivered, they evoke entirely different emotions, according to the director.

Um, who plays Serge, said, “I first watched this play in my 20s and wanted to do it so much in my 40s that I reached out to the production company.” Um had previously played Serge in the 2022 production.

Park Eun-seok, known for his role in the SBS hit drama “The Penthouse: War in Life,” takes on the character of Marc, having played the role in all four previous productions.

Reflecting on the play, Park compared it to wine, evolving with time and experience.

“I think ‘Art’ is like wine. When I first joined (‘Art’), I belonged to the youngest cast, but now I have also aged, (there is now a mature appeal to the play).”

"Art" is scheduled to run until May 12 at the Link Arts Center in Jongno-gu.