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A Thousand Faces Chapter 10

Updated: Jan 3

Rehearsal room. 

  

Seated on the floor, Junwoo was in the midst of re-reading the scripts he had already gone through. 

  

"Are you planning to spend your whole life just staring at those?" 

  

Before they knew it, Mansik was there, having come in unnoticed. 

He held a heavy paper bag in one hand. 

  

Junwoo blinked. 

  

"Where did you come from? Didn't see you around all morning." 

  

Mansik wordlessly turned the paper bag upside down. Books tumbled out in a steady stream. 

  

"This is..." 

  

Junwoo's eyes widened in surprise. 

  

"I guess this is enough for now?" 

  

Even as he said that, Mansik scratched his head and looked displeased. 

  

Understanding Theater, Basic Theater Theory, Introduction to Theater, Glossary of Stage Arts Terms, Directing Techniques, Playwriting Theory, Ancient Roman Theater and Comedy, and not to mention, classical books and scripts in their original languages. 

  

There was only one bookstore in this rural area, and it was located in the city center. 

  

To have gone all the way there on such a hot day. 

  

It looked like he had bought up everything related to theater in that tiny bookstore. 

  

He was always hanging around the theater, so he wondered where Junwoo had gone. 

  

The words he casually uttered yesterday had lingered in Mansik's mind all day. 

  

Unaware of that, Junwoo felt a bit embarrassed reading the script here so nonchalantly. 

  

Junwoo picked up one of the thick books spread out before him. 

  

"Hmm. Even if it's not fun, it will help. You must have been frustrated at some point in the past." 

  

Mansik said it, but he thought it might be a pointless suggestion. 

  

In reality, he wasn't sure if all these theories were really necessary for Junwoo. 

  

He feared that trying to confine Junwoo's genius instincts within a framework might backfire. 

  

Is this the right thing to do? No matter how much he thought about it, he couldn't find anything else he could do for him. 

  

In the end, he had selected only those works that he considered masterpieces, thinking that his teachings, which went beyond the conventional routes in this field, were meaningless. 

  

He was afraid that if he explained what theater is or what directing is, it would make the boy's mind too narrow. On the other hand, he was worried that the boy, who had just started to enjoy acting, would lose interest in the pile of theoretical books in front of him.  

  

It didn't take even five minutes for him to realize that it was an unnecessary concern. 

  

"It's interesting," 

  

Junwoo said as his gaze fixed on the theory book. 

  

The guy spoke with a slow nod, and his eyes were shining. 

  

"Well, it does help a bit, doesn't it?" 

  

"It's my first time studying, but it's surprisingly fun." 

  

Fun. Mansik felt like the conversation was a bit off. 

  

"Is it really your first time encountering something like this? How can you act like that without knowing anything properly?" 

  

"Just because actors are the only ones who can act well?" 

  

"What are you talking about?" 

  

"Be careful. Someone like you is the perfect stepping stone when you go out." 

  

"Someone like me? What's that supposed to mean?" 

  

"You're always so quick to jump into things. No fear, no hesitation." 

  

"Oh, please. What does this little brat know? When did I ever do that?" 

  

Mansik laughed in disbelief. 

  

"You're saying that to me when you don't even know anything about me." 

  

Mansik pressed his lips tightly together. Junwoo, who had suddenly closed the book he was reading and was staring intently at Mansik, asked. 

  

"I wonder if I could be famous someday." 

  

"No, it's not necessary." 

  

"Really?" 

  

Mansik's face became somewhat serious. It was a hesitant expression, uncertain of how to take in his own words. 

  

"I just hope you live doing what you really want. It took me quite a long time to figure that out." 

  

It wasn't a lie. You could tell just by looking at his face. Mansik's feelings toward Junwoo were sincere. 

  

"I suppose you might think I'm using you, but even if you messed up on stage, I would've still gone to the bookstore today." 

  

After saying it all, Mansik belatedly avoided eye contact. 

  

"... Probably." 

  

Mansik cleared his throat awkwardly. 

  

"To think I was being used. If I had known that, I would have eaten you up long ago." 

  

Seeing Mansik looking embarrassed, a chuckle escaped naturally. 

  

"It's not like that. I'm grateful for these. I actually needed them." 

  

"Really?" 

  

"Yes, really." 

  

Junwoo scanned the books and said, "I'll pay you back later." 

He added that to himself in his head. 

  

*** 

  

"Hello, Mr. Joo Mansik. I heard you manage this theater." 

In front of the theater. 

  

For a moment, there was a furrowed brow at the unexpected appearance of a stranger. However, once Mansik confirmed his identity, he couldn't help but be surprised. 

  

The person confidently bowing towards him was unmistakably Choi Jaemin, a director at NK Entertainment. 

  

"Why is someone like him here?" 

  

NK Entertainment was renowned for producing top actors in South Korea. 

  

Despite not being an actor, his fame spread widely, even among the general public. 

  

Choi Jaemin was a figure who gained attention for casting and matching actors for several major films and dramas. When his name was associated with a project, not only investors flocked, but among journalists, there was a common saying, "If Choi Jaemin cast the actors, the work is worth watching in itself." The projects he participated in often came with the label of pre-guaranteed box office success. 

  

"But really, what brings you here?" 

  

Seeing that he even knew his name, it didn't seem like a casual visit. 

  

Choi Jaemin extended his hand for a handshake towards Mansik. 

  

Unlike the expression he had just shown towards Junwoo, there was a sense of caution in Mansik's demeanor. With a maintained smiling face, he subtly withdrew the hand he had extended. 

  

"I enjoyed the performance yesterday. Is that child a member of this theater?" 

  

Even without mentioning a name or any details, Mansik could easily tell who they were referring to—the youngster in question. 

  

"Yes, that's correct." 

  

He may not be officially part of the theater company, but... Well, I do work here, so that's still accurate. 

  

"I have a proposal I'd like to make. I apologize for dropping by without notice. It's my first time urgently seeking help like this... It's been a while. The feeling of discovering such a treasure." 

  

Choi Jaemin has been going through a headache recently due to contract renewal issues with his affiliated actors. 

  

They all seemed to follow the same pattern, asserting their market value with unreasonable demands as if they had coordinated beforehand. In an attempt to cool his head, he came down here and happened to see Junwoo in a play by chance. 

  

Since I heard that kid's first line, my instincts have been telling me. 

This isn't the kind of person who belongs here. 

  

Lately, I've been watching affiliated actors who prioritize popularity and fame over genuine acting, and suddenly, it felt like I discovered a shining star. 

  

However, the theater owner didn't appear as easily as he thought. Indeed, if someone like him is affiliated, this must not be an ordinary countryside theater. 

  

"Are you thinking of casting someone?" 

  

Mansik asked. 

  

"It's not just casting. It wasn't easy to find a child actor for the upcoming production. Usually, even among child actors, it's challenging to discover gems who can portray intelligence beyond their years and convey sophistication. That kid effortlessly expressed the entirety of a person's life in their thirties without any awkwardness. No, it went beyond that. Really...to think someone like that would be hidden in a place like this..."  

  

The director's eyes sparkled as if mentally replaying yesterday's performance. 

  

In Mansik's view, the director seemed eager to cast Junwoo in a project immediately. 

  

If this entertainment company takes on a project, success is guaranteed. It was on a different scale than the stage performance he saw yesterday. There were aspects beyond his own efforts. 

  

"I understand the eagerness to start shooting right away. The kid's talent is not just outstanding; it's exceptional. So, do you have a specific plan for him?" 

  

"If we're talking about plans...?" 

  

There was a firmness in Mansik's tone, mingled with concern for Junwoo. 

  

He wondered if they might be too hasty in using the kid's talent, blinded by it, without considering the broader picture. 

  

"I'm well aware of the scale of NK's experts. I wanted to inquire about the possibilities of offering basic training, participation in large-scale domestic and international projects, opportunities for overseas education, and attendance at major events. Of course, all of this is under the condition that Junwoo desires them." 

  

"Are you offering such significant opportunities for free to an inexperienced rookie?" 

  

"I think you would understand if you had seen the performance. I'm so eager to be a part of it, that's why I'm waiting here like this." 

  

Choi Jaemin was taken aback. Why is he so bold? He expected a humble reaction, considering the extent of what he was offering. 

  

"Hmm..." 

  

Even so, he couldn't bring himself to disagree. The boy was so tempting. 

  

"I'll do my best to work something out. It's not something I can decide on my own, but... 

  

"It was so natural for Mansik. The one who should be grateful was the other side, not this side." 

  

Judging by his contemplation, it seemed like he still didn't fully understand the extent of Junwoo's abilities.  

What you've seen is not even a fraction of what he's capable of. 

  

If he got to know more about him, it was clear that he would be driven to push things forward, regardless of conditions or anything else. 

  

Above all, it wasn't a matter for him to decide. Anyway, judging from what he had experienced so far, it didn't seem like Junwoo would just follow along easily. 

  

"We simply want to provide an environment where we can help the young talent. We hope you consider a path that is beneficial and expedient for the child, as much as you care for them." 

  

A business card was unexpectedly extended toward Mansik. 

  

"Please take some time to think about it and feel free to contact us." 

  

*** 

  

Junwoo lay sprawled on the floor of the practice room. 

  

Theory books and scripts that Mansik had brought were scattered messily around him. 

  

After tirelessly reading through all the books for a while, Jun-woo gazed silently at the lights hanging from the ceiling. 

  

"What should I do? It's not like I have money right now." 

  

Junwoo was thinking about Mansik. He realized that he had only been taking from Mansik, and hadn't really done anything for him in return. Junwoo was even more troubled because Mansik wasn't the type of person to care about money. No matter how hard he thought, the only thing that Mansik could really like about him was…himself. 

  

Hmm... 

Sneakily. 

  

Mansik, who had been sneakily observing the scene, was entertaining a mischievous thought. 

  

Already feeling bored, huh? 

  

Mansik's eyebrows curved downward. 

  

"Ahem..! I came to check on how you're doing. With such a great teacher by your side, do you really have no questions?" 

  

Junwoo looked up at Mansik's entrance. 

  

Mansik directed his gaze to the theory books spread out next to Junwoo. 

  

Oh, I see. The guy who was just casually scanning with his eyes had marked a spot with a pen. 

  

There was a conspicuous question mark that he had drawn in an empty space. 

  

"Well, it looks like you do have some questions after all." 

  

"Oh, that thing. It's been translated in the dictionary, but when I looked at the samples, it seemed a bit different in meaning." 

  

"Really? Even though I've been in this field for about five years, I've studied as much as someone with ten years of experience. Let me take a look!" 

  

Mansik was excited. 

  

Finally, the moment came when he could be of help. 

  

Junwoo glanced at Mansik's excited face and got up with a slightly awkward expression. 

  

"This part here..." 

  

Junwoo pointed to a specific part in the theory book with his finger. However, 

  

"Hmm..." 

  

What language is this exactly? 

  

Even though Mansik had a deep understanding of classical texts, seeing them in translation made them look like alien languages to him. 

  

Mansik's mouth went dry. 

  

"Oh, this is something else. Hmm." 

  

Without being able to recognize anything, Mansik squinted his eyes for no apparent reason. 

  

"Why is my stomach feeling like this today... Just keep looking at it for now." 

  

Mansik walked away, absentmindedly stroking his stomach. He wasn't at a level to respond. He couldn't comprehend where the difference between the translated version and the original text was, to begin with. 

  

Leaning against the door, Mansik looked up at the ceiling, still surprised. 

  

"How far are you planning to go with this..." 

  

"It was the picture he had been envisioning. That's why he had run to the construction site like that." 

  

However, now he was beginning to feel that capturing that vision was a daunting task. 

  

It was intimidating to see the young one who had just started acting grow so quickly. Despite experiencing countless failures in life, this was the first time he felt so unsure of himself. Mansik wondered if he could properly guide this child with his own capacity. 

  

The next day, 

  

"I don't understand this part. Please explain." 

  

Suddenly, the kid started asking questions again. This time, it was quite challenging, but fortunately, it was within Mansik's ability to answer. The topic the kid pointed out was about 'Brecht's Fourth Wall Theory.' 

  

"This is it. It refers to the imaginary wall between the audience and the stage. In Brecht's theater, actors sometimes break the fourth wall, engaging directly with the audience. Theater is not just simple entertainment; it's connected to social messages..." 

  

As Mansik explained earnestly, he seemed a bit excited. Junwoo, nodding quietly, had a smile on his face that Mansik might not notice. 

  

"Got it. And this as well." 

  

This time, Junwoo opened another book. Various parts were marked with a red pen. After having a lively discussion for about thirty minutes, Mansik, upon returning, sat down at the desk and unfolded the theory books he had set aside. 

  

"And to think I'd see this again at my age..." 

  

I haven't been this passionate about learning since I first started in the theater world. 

  

*** 

  

In the meantime, as he observed the unbelievable progress over the course of a week, Manshik's concerns deepened. 

  

The natural talent combined with passion and dedication had propelled the lad's development at an unimaginable pace. 

  

There was no need for additional theory books now; the boy had already surpassed an expert level. 

  

After the staff all left work, the boy set up the empty stage as he wanted and perfectly copied the script. He was not only copying the emotions and habits of the various characters in the script, but he was also adjusting the angles of the lights to match the character of each scene.  

  

It was an artistic realm. Discovering Mansik lost in the breathtaking spectacle, Junwoo merely scratched his head and casually asked if it was okay to touch. 

  

Later on, he continued his practice by reworking the script, leaving only the characters' emotions intact and discarding the rest of the lines without hesitation. 

  

No, it wasn't the concept of practice. He was purely enjoying filling the stage on his own. 

  

There was a radiance emanating from him that surpassed the stage lights. 

  

Absently watching the stage, Mansik reached into his pocket subconsciously. There, he found the business card he hadn't discarded yet. 

  

"...I guess that would be better." 

  

Fidgeting with his pocket, Mansik eventually pulled it out. 

  

Under the name 'Choi Jaemin,' his number was written. 

  

The signal beeped on the other side of the phone. 

  

"This is Joo Mansik. Let's put aside all formalities and meet face-to-face to talk." 

 


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