In this unstable era we live in, an artist may actually be someone who confronts the world with a sharp sense, sensitive eye, and warm touch. Haeweon Yi, a co-artistic director of Blooming Ludus, a participatory theater company, says she feels 'alive' when she collaborates with artists to fight against climate crisis issues and when she creates arts for toddlers and children. Let’s hear the story of Haeweon Yi.
Q. Please introduce yourself.
Hello, I am Haeweon Yi and I create plays. I am also a co-artistic director of Blooming Ludus, a participatory theater company, where we talk about the environment and sustainability issues, and the relationship of the living beings on Earth.
Written and directed by Haeweon Yi, presented by Taroo, pansori theater Welcome, 2021-2022
Photo / ⓒIRO COMPANY
Q. Briefly introduce to us the projects you are currently working on.
In cooperation with 'Taroo', whose works are based on traditional arts, we have developed a pansori* theater in Seoul since the year 2020, for children under 18 months and recently performed it at the 2022 Assitej Winter Festival.
*Pansori: a Korean genre of musical storytelling performed by a singer and a drummer
Q. What was the first work of yours that can be called 'arts education', and what motivated you to start it?
I started my career in ‘arts education’ working with the children's and youth theater troupes in London. I met with the local children on a regular basis to interact with them and to make plays together.
My personal experience of meeting children from areas where they do not have any theaters when I was an undergraduate studying theater, became the motivation for me to start working in the field of arts education. As I became curious about the people who visits as an audience and about the people who stays outside the theater, I started questioning whose voice I should be expressing within my plays.
Q. How are you balancing your identity as an ‘artist’ and your role as a ‘teaching artist’? How do the two influence each other?
I try not to distinguish between the educational and artistic activities within my work. Instead, I try to think sincerely on who we should invite, who to meet, and whose voice to express in my work. My company, Blooming Ludus, meets with the community to create performances based on research and workshops, and continuously discover new communities within such performances.
Exploring the school with Jingwan elementary school students
Photo/ ⓒHaeweon Yi
Q. Is there a memorable episode from your arts education activities or a moment you felt specially connected to the participants?
Blooming Ludus' first project, Light Maker's Workshop, was a family workshop held during the Christmas season in a small seaside town in England. Later we got to know that the town children sang the same songs we played back at that time for their next Christmas. I felt so happy to hear this since that workshop was specially planned to unify the villagers by helping them think about the values of light and energy. When arts education activities do not simply end as an one time experience, but are expressed as a new form of arts through others, it feels like you have received a special gift.
Q. What type of artist/teaching artist do you want to become in the future? What will you be doing in 10 to 20 years?
It is getting harder to imagine what I will be doing in the future, or even next year. But in the next 10, 20 years, I want to be an artist who listens attentively to what others have to say and encounters them in a transparent manner. I also hope to still be brave in facing challenges.
Q. Why is this job/work important to you? What are the beliefs or missions you hold? Why do you work in this particular field?
This job is important to me because it's what makes me feel 'alive' the most. And through the numerous encounters I face through my work, I get to realize how I am only a small being and how we are connected to each other.
Blooming Ludus, <Climate Justice Tea Time>, 2020
Screenshot / ⓒHaeweon Yi
Q. In terms of interaction and communication, the life of an artist/teaching artist seems to be based on one’s personal activities. But why do we still need to meet and interact with other colleagues?
It is because each and every work we do contributes to shaping the landscape and flow of the arts of our time. We inspire each other and give each other strength to continue our work. Also, it is important to interact with colleagues in order to protect our own rights and to gather our voices. Since the lives of artists and teaching artists are largely ‘based on individual activities’, ‘loose solidarity’ is even more necessary.
Q. What is your biggest concern while taking this career path?
In order to continue doing arts work in this era, not only do you have to ‘create’ but you also need to be aware of various support projects, understand the administrative structure to guarantee one's rights, and also have ideas for publicity. It's a tiring thing but I can't say it's unnecessary. It doesn't seem easy to find the balance between the energy I use for this kind of work and the energy I use for creative matters. It’s also hard finding a colleague who can help me out in such matters every time.
Q. Do you have any personal questions for fellow artists/teaching artists?
I wonder where my fellow colleagues gain their sustainable energy from, especially in this unstable era we live in. How do you keep on going and survive?
Haeweon Yi, the co-artistic director of Blooming Ludus, a multinational theatre company, creates theatric plays through play, objects, and movements, and conveys various resonances of our Earth and the sense of encounter to the audience. She has been making plays with children in London and Seoul, and shares stories about forests and cities with the citizens. She recently created a pansori theatre Welcome with Taroo for babies born during the climate crisis era.
Blooming Ludus website: https://www.bloomingludus.com
According to above KOGL, user can use public works freely and without fee when user complies with the terms provided as follows. However, it is prohibited to use public works for commercial purpose, or to create secondary works by changing or modifying it.