Fueled by coffee, unfounded optimism, and the vigor of passion, we are an amateur, non-profit theater team that intends to tap into all the vibrant creativity which already exists in the Gwangju community.
GPP Founders: Jo Park and Travis Major
The brainchild of Director Jo Park and Travis Major, this new and ambitious English performance group was dreamt up sometime in 2010, but really got moving in early 2011. A first script was chosen: Picasso at the Lapin Agile, by Steve Martin. Soon after, other artists, friends, and random hobos appeared to offer their hard work and support. In the end, the project was assisted by so many generous individuals that it would be nearly impossible to credit them all. It might be more fair to say that this show was produced by the Gwangju foreigner community as a whole. While still mourning Jo Park's unfortunate migration to America, we were graced with a new director: the lovely, talented, and feisty Amanda Koons, who directed The Real Inspector Hound, by Tom Stoppard. With the benefit of her years of theatre experience, the group was able to grow in size and confidence. Also indispensable was the tenacious Gail Elgersma, whose official role of stage manager doesn't even begin to cover all the responsibilities she continues to manage.
Our next show consisted of four one-act plays by David Ives. Titled Ives Just Got to Dance, the show included the genius leadership of producer Gail Elgersma, actor/director Zak Cates, as well as dance choreographer Angie Hartley. Angie's passion for Dance in Gwangju created a new direction for GPP, with regular dance workshops at the Gwangju International Center.
Always evolving, finished an exciting, unique project: locally-written theatre! Starting with some writing workshops (facilitated by the talented Rachel Redfern) in June and July, we had the Gwangju artistic community write us some scripts. Out of many submissions, we selected 6 that we performed in December in our most recent production:Six Plays, Four Nights, One Couch.
Our fall 2013 production was Christopher Durang's Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them, directed by the talented Gail Elgersma. It's a fresh, contemporary play about American nationalistic fervor. The New York Times describes the 2011 play as Durang's "hilarious and disturbing new comedy about all-American violence." The show was performed on October 19th and 20th, to great acclaim!
2014 and 2015 Presidents, Anna Volle and Heather Aitken
In 2014, a committee of Players was formed to firmly establish the GPP as a community institution. At its helm was Anna Volle, who directed Neil Simon's hilarious farce Rumorsin July of 2014, and initiated a slew of new programs and activities for the community, such as the monthly performing arts workshops. The fall production was Proof, by David Auburn, directed by Victoria Brown, who later went on to lead the performance TruthAbout Love, which brought together the Korean and expat community in a love-ly way.
As a fundraiser for Proof, Heather Aitken directed a Cabaret Night spectacular, which was a massive success and a smashing amount of fun and frolicking. 15 performers sang and danced their hearts out while a fabulously attired audience ate and drank and laughed along with them.
2015 saw more growth for the GPP under new president Heather Aitken, who directed the GPP's first musical The Last Five Years, to great acclaim. Mid-year, Caitlin O'Neill stepped into the role of President, while simultaneously directing the GPP's largest production to date, A Midsummer Night's Dream - boasting an impressive 40+ cast and crew members.
Our group could not exist and thrive without the continuing support of the Gwangju community, foreigners and locals alike. Going forward, there will be more shows. We intend for the Gwangju Performance Project to become a lasting fixture of the Gwangju artistic community. If you have any interest in theatre, even if you have no experience at all, please contact us. The great thing about theatre is that, no matter what your skill set, there is always a place for you.