Seoul Marginal Theatre Festival (SMTF) began in 1999 as a platform for young directors with Choi Chi Rim as the first Artistic Director. Its aim was to be a contemporary performing arts festival that captured the aesthetics and social contexts from the perspectives of 'the marginalized.' For the festival, the word 'marginal' implies an examination of the centre, or of an authority position, that excludes the periphery. It then becomes a 'subversion' by switching the centre and the periphery and making some form of 'encounter with, and acceptance of, the boundaries'. Through this subversion the margin becomes the frontline.
Over the years, SMTF has attempted to put the voice of various minority groups such as LGBTQI, victims of national violence and people with disabilities, into the language of art. The festival has especially served as a place for creative inquiry - a place for artists to work in the spirit of experimentation and questioning. SMTF has supported many important Korean artists who have developed their own unique performance language. These include Kang Ryang Won, Kim Hyun Tak, Ku Ja Hye, Kim Min Jung, Shin Jae, Yun Han Sol, Yun Seo Bi, Oh Kyung Taek, Jeong Geumhyung and Chae Hong Deok.
As an annual event, the identity of the festival was firmly shaped under the direction of Inza Lim (Artistic Director 2004-2015). From 2015-21, under the leadership of Kyung-Sung Lee, the SMTF has moved to a bi-annual format. From the 19th edition of the festival, Adriano Cortese from Melbourne, Australia, and Jung Eun Lee, join the team as Co-Artistic Director and Executive Producer alongside Artistic Director Kyung-Sung Lee and Festival Executive and Programming Director, Kang-Hee Jeon.
SMTF Manifesto (2012~ )
SMTF is a platform where the concept of contemporary is challenged and re-illuminated.
SMTF thinks of the rupture and the beauty between the boundaries of theatre and theatre, theatre and life.
SMTF tries to find possibility in the impossible.
SMTF reveres the aesthetics of the weird, the strange, and the impure.
SMTF is the theatre festival for everything that is not theatre.