What a lovely Sunday. I love the ballet so when I found out The Nutcracker was in Daejeon, for this weekend only, I had to go. I had four days to figure out the venue, how to get there, how to buy tickets, and hopefully some people also interested in going. I had a mission. I was not going to miss this show. After spending thirty minutes trying to understand the bus map I gave up and took off on the subway. There is a stop remotely close to the theatre, I’m smart, I’ll figure it out. A short subway ride and a LONG walk in the cold later I found it. And thanks to Facebook I was able to find 5 lovely people who also wanted to go.
I had called the theatre a few days earlier and was informed to just show up a few hours ahead of the show to buy the tickets. The show started at 3 o’clock so we met up at the subway at one(ish). Now knowing our destination, we walked a much shorter walk than I had the day before and got to the theatre right when the box office opened. We chose 2nd floor balcony, third row which I was pleased with. I like being up high for theatre, which is beneficial since those are coincidentally the cheap seats.
After we bought our tickets we had lunch at a bibimbap restaurant that Rachel had eaten at before. This was my first time having bibimbap and I must say, I’m a fan. Big time.
Most restaurants put all the ingredients in a bowl with a raw egg on top and you just mix it together. I liked this restaurant because it was all separate and we were all able to pick what we wanted to add to our individual rice bowls. Stone hot “burn your fingers off your hand” rice bowls, to be more exact. But for the anti-spicy eater in me, this was awesome.
(Important note - the egg goes in raw but cooks thoroughly from the heat of the bowl. I’ve actually avoided eating this dish the last two months because I thought it required eating a raw egg.)
The Nutcracker showed at the Daejeon Culture and Arts Center. It’s a beautiful building but in subtle ways it’s very different than similar centers in America. Probably the most notable difference is that the theatre was completely dark. Pitch black. No lighting on the floor to show the exits. Nothing marking stairways or rows of seats. No big red EXIT signs, or as they are called in Korea, “Way Out” signs. Also it seems that if you are not there prior to the show starting, you don’t get in.
At intermission we all went down to grab coffee and stand in line with the 800 Koreans that also came to see the ballet. About ten minutes into the twenty minute intermission a man came out and made an announcement (in Korean of course). Suddenly the line was down to 6. The foreigners. You would think that I have learned from the bus fiasco last weekend, but alas, you would be wrong. We stayed to get our coffees and went back upstairs to reclaim our seats.
What? We can’t take our lattes into the theatre? Then why did someone just sell them to us 30 seconds ago? Who chugs coffee? Ugh. I blame Korea for the faulty logic on this one.
The ballet had already started too. Double whammy. I don’t think they were even supposed to let us back in the theater but they did. Thankfully. We chugged our green tea lattes the best we could before the hostess said (and I use that term loosely) that she would hold our coffees at her podium until the end of the show, then the usher helped us to our seats. I truly think we were only allowed back in because we are foreigners and clearly not educated on Korean theater etiquette. And I’m ok with that.
Only being vaguely familiar with The Nutcracker storyline, there were a few profound differences that can only be a result of cultural preference. There was a very strange sheep and wolf scenario added in. The Rat King lost. The Nutcracker didn’t die in the end. Sorry if I ruined it for you. I forgot my glasses so none of the dancers had faces or perfectly pointed toes to admire, but other than Caroline and the Nutcracker himself all of the dancers, male and female, had blonde wigs. That I did notice. And found a bit strange. The dancing was spectacular and the music was lovely, even if it did sound as though it was prerecorded. I won’t judge. It was a fantastic Sunday afternoon.
Marieke, Rachel, Brenna, and myself
After the ballet, Brenna and I went Christmas shopping and everyone else went out for drinks. It was a lovely, albeit very, very cold, Sunday. I should do this more often.