Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Korea Herald: Regina Walton's Expat Interviews - Live comedy brings laughs to Seoulites

My second Expat Interview makes it to print. Check it out:

Live Comedy Brings Laughs to Seoulites

It's always amazing to find that people you know have interests similar to your own. It creates a strong bond and also sometimes sets the stage for collaboration -- as Kirstie Bromenshenk found out firsthand.

From Billings, Montana, Bromenshenk has lived in Korea for 10 years. She chose Korea as her new home for the thrill and excitement of living abroad, and like many of us, for the chance to travel.

Before moving to Korea she earned a master's degree in English literature and literary theory and taught literature, research writing, and composition courses at Montana State University-Billings. With her theater background, Bromenshenk was involved in directing and producing plays in Montana.

She has now found her way back to the theater and entertainment here in Seoul working as a voice actor. However, what's most exciting is her theater production work.

BH Productions is a not-for-profit theater company. Bromenshenk explained that she's been with BH Productions virtually from the beginning. In 2003, Bernard Hughes, who co-manages BH Productions with her, "had begun work on 'Cathleen ni Houlihan,' and I came on board halfway through that production," she said. From that first production of "Cathleen ni Houlihan," Bromenshenk and Hughes have produced many shows for the Seoul community.

Like Bromenshenk, Hughes has a theater background. Hughes is a professional actor who has been in productions in London's famous West End theater district.

Bromenshenk explained that when she discovered that she had found a kindred spirit, collaborating was a natural progression. The theater company provides a creative outlet for people interested in drama, and it also provides entertainment for people starved for English-language entertainment. In that way, it fills a need for culture in the expatriate and English-speaking community here in Seoul.

There just aren't many fun, casual and affordable English-language entertainment options in Seoul. BH Productions, however, has filled that void over the last five years.

BH Productions' newest project is the Spotlight Comedy Club. This club brings professional standup comics to perform in Seoul. According to Bromenshenk, there is no professional English-language standup comedy in Seoul.

The most recent show on Feb. 17 featured standup comics Erica Skeete and Jimmie Roulette from the United States and a local standup comedian. Bromenshenk said the show was moved to the Kabinett wine bar in Itaewon because it has a larger capacity and they had been turning people away at the door. "We changed because the last one was a bit too small and the Kabinett wine bar can fit in 120 people."

"I think there isn't any professionalized (English) comedy and people miss that part in their lives, whether they're Australian, Canadian, British, or anything else. We all love live comedy and we all miss it," she added.

Bromenshenk said that the show was a success, and that it was another sellout audience. "The comedians are all excellent."

In addition to their comedy shows, the company has produced and performed 10 plays. Their productions have been plays from around the world ranging from work by Irish playwright William Bulter Yeats to French playwright Yasmina Reza.

In April 2006, the company went to Singapore to perform "Waiting for Godot" by Samuel Beckett. In December 2006, they went to Beijing, China, to perform "Hope Persistent Hope," which was a concept performance of various works also by Samuel Beckett.

For more information, e-mail thebhpcompany@yahoo.com

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