When my mother came to visit me I really wanted to take her to watch Nanta but was a bit worried that a) you needed an understanding of Korean or that b) it was another tourist trap. I’m incredibly happy to report that we needn’t have worried about either of those. Nanta completely exceeded our expectations and blew us away.
For the entire duration of the show, we sat enthralled by what was happening on stage. We laughed, we clapped along, we bobbed our heads and tapped our feet in beat with the music. It truly was a wonderful performance so full of energy and kept us thoroughly entertained.
So what is Nanta exactly you ask?
Nanta is a non-verbal comedy show created and produced by Song Seung-whan and incorporates traditional samul nori rhythm. The musical has a simple backstory of three cooks attempting to finish preparing a wedding banquet within a strict time limit while the manager installs his incompetent nephew among the kitchen staff. The show involves acrobatics, magic tricks, comedy, pantomime and audience participation. The unifying element throughout the musical is the use of traditional Korean samul nori music, which in this case is performed with improvised instruments, such as cutting boards, water canisters and kitchen knives. The performance is almost completely non-verbal. The very few words which are spoken are mostly in English.
Nanta is the longest-running show in Korean history. The musical made its international debut at the 1999 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where it received an award for best performance. Since then it has been staged in 57 countries around the world. Nanta opened Off-Broadway in New York City in 2004 and ended its run in August 2005.
There are now three shows in Korea (Myeongdong, Hongdae and Jeju) and one in Bangkok.
Though there are other third-party ticket sellers I would recommend going through the website as they do offer some good deals if you book in advance or at certain times. If you book in advance you can get an Early bird ticket and the 2pm shows on the weekends are also well priced.
Besides being able to buy tickets on the website they also give you very clear directions and instructions on how to get to each theatre.
If you are lucky enough you get to actually participate in the show. Either as a bride or groom or as some other parts.
If you are chosen to participate they post your photos on the website for you to download.
Nanta is really something worth doing while in Korea. It is fun, family friendly and can be done in any weather. Perfect for the upcoming winter months.
If you have already seen Nanta let me know what you thought. If you loved it and want to watch some other similar things have a look at my bucket list that has a section on non-verbal shows.