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© Leontien Allemeersch

The History of Korean Western Theatre

Jaha Koo

Following the irresistible Cuckoo, Jaha Koo probes in this piece the shadows of childhood and the blind spots of history to create from the ruins of the past a form of theatre that responds to the present.


What is Korean theatre? This deceptively simple question gives rise to a host of others, all of them crucial and unanswerable. In 2008, South Korean theatre, celebrating its hundredth anniversary, seemed to Jaha Koo like a sterile practice, diluted by forced westernization. Yet this peninsular nation was once stirred by dance, ceremonies, and rituals full of mythical figures. Jaha Koo, as heir to an amputated memory, probes the shadows of childhood and the blind spots of History to create from the ruins of the past a form of theatre that responds to the present.

The History of Korean Western Theatre follows the irresistible Cuckoo, whose disarming uniqueness delighted Montréal audiences in 2019. Always applying himself with a whimsical rigour to subverting documentary, this genre-defying artist is spreading his wings wide, filling the stage with his delicate, enchanting sound and visual creations.


Produced by CAMPO

Concept, Text, Direction, Music, Video and Research Jaha Koo

Performed by Jaha Koo + Seri + Toad

Dramaturgy Dries Douibi

Set Design, Drawing and Research Eunkyung Jeong

Artistic Advisor Pol Heyvaert

Programming Idella Craddock

Research Assistant Sang Ok Kim

Interviews Kiran Kim + Jooyoung Koh + Kyungmi Lee

Technicians Jan Berckmans + Korneel Coessens + Koen Goossens + Bart Huybrechts

Co-produced by Kunstenfestivaldesarts (Bruxelles) + Münchner Kammerspiele + Frascati Producties (Amsterdam) + Veem House for Performance (Amsterdam) + SPRING Performing Arts Festival (Utrecht) + Zürcher Theater Spektakel (Zurich) + Black Box teater (Oslo) + Kampnagel International Summer Festival (Hambourg) + Tanzquartier Wien + wpZimmer (Anvers) + Théâtre de la Bastille (Paris) + Festival d’Automne à Paris

With the support of Beursschouwburg (Bruxelles) + Vlaamse Gemeenschapscommissie (Bruxelles) + Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst

Residencies Kunstencentrum BUDA (Courtrai) + wpZimmer (Anvers) + Decoratelier Jozef Wouters (Bruxelles) + Doosan Art Center (Séoul)

Presented in association with Carrefour international de théâtre (Québec) + Centre du Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui

CAMPO is supported by Ville de Gand + The Flemish Community

Premiered at International Summer Festival Kampnagel, Hamburg, on August 28, 2020

North American première

Written by Sara Fauteux

Translated by Katia Grubisic


© Leontien Allemeersch

Jaha Koo (Seoul + Ghent)

Jaha Koo graduated in theatre studies from the Korea National University of Arts in Seoul and continued his training at DasArts in Amsterdam, where he moved in 2012. Jaha Koo has been splitting his time between the Netherlands and Belgium for the past ten years.

Full biography