His acting from back then was based on memories.

Last year, when he learned acting from Ganghwan, there was a short period of time where he stood on stage.
He did a short monodrama for five to ten minutes before the real show.
The role he played back then was a bus driver.
There was no need to call it a ‘role’ since he actually had experience being one.
There was no need to put on the mask of an actor.
He just conversed with the people in the audience while looking back at his life.
It must have looked natural.
After all, he just spoke of his experiences.

The reason he couldn’t be happy when he was complimented behind the stage was because he was aware that it was not an act.
An actor starts off by imitating, but the ultimate goal of all actors was to create something out of nothing.
Acting from experience was a stable method, but there would be no progress either.

It was then that Maru thought – he couldn’t forget about his past self, nor could he abandon it.

The Han Maru before his reincarnation; the Han Maru aged forty-five was a part of him that he could not break away from.
The youthful Maru’s challenging mindset and the middle-aged Maru’s conservatism were walking towards a common ground, but there were still cases where one overtook the other in regards to certain matters.

While his personality went through such a process, his memory was piling up.
The memories from the forty-five year-old Maru were being buried by new memories.
The clear picture he had of his daughter was blurring out, and her adult face was becoming fainter by the day.
One day, his forty-five year-old self’s memories would all sink into his subconscious, or perhaps even deeper than that.
Only God would know when that would happen.

The reason he felt uneasy relying on his experience to do acting was because he thought of those things.
It would one day be impossible to grab onto the roots of his memories and utter them out through his mouth like a parrot.

That was why he passionately did research.
They were definitely things he was already aware of.
When he focused, he could remember what kind of gaze company executives had when looking at others, what kind of expression they had during speeches, as well as their blatant arrogance and the attitude of ‘seeking gifts’ whenever it became performance evaluation season.

However, he did not bring those memories into his acting.

It was definitely very difficult.
There were immediate funds he could make use of, yet he had to ignore it on purpose.
He did not rely on his memories and started investigating.
He put aside the things he knew and started compiling knowledge from the current era.
The method he chose to complete the image of a company executive was to listen to his father.
Although that would affect the objectivity of the image, it didn’t matter.
He based his image of the company executive on what he heard from his father and formed his character.

It wasn’t easy.
There were definitely differences between the image of company executives in his mind and the image his father had.
There were some things he just couldn’t accept as well.
It took him quite a long time to accept the things he couldn’t accept before.

He continued that process of breaking the old and accepting the new.
During such a process, Maru felt his vision widening.
He compared, accepted, and threw away.
The process of turning the obvious not so obvious gave him a lot of things to think about.

The moment he formed a general outline of the executive character, Maru realized that what he was doing was precisely the process of applying a character to his role.
The form of the character borrowed from the words of someone else clashed with his own image of the character, broke down, and merged into one.
During such a process, the character came to possess more depth.

The stabilization process.
Just like how his personalities and preferences were being neutralized, his memories needed a similar process.
That process was necessary so that his mind wouldn’t fall into chaos after all of his forty-five year-old memories disappeared.

“Just shut up if you’re poor! Poor people always have loud voices, urgh.”

Maru shouted towards the audience.
After that, he acted all arrogant and scanned the other actors on stage.
Although there were a few mistakes, they reached all the way to this point without breaking the flow.
The play was running towards the curtain call.
There weren’t that many lines left either.

Daemyung smoothly continued the conversation.
He definitely had some stability.
Looking at Daemyung walking around the stage while speaking, Maru sat down.
After Daemyung’s line, they would each have their last lines, get into a big fight and finish everything off.
The first years, who were shaking, seemed to have gotten used to the play as well and no longer shook.
Confidence could be seen from their eyes, and they were ready to say their lines whenever their turn arrived.

This play should end without a hitch.

* * *

“He is doing well, he really is, but….”

Yoojin frowned.
The reason she helped Woosung High and their practice to the point that she volunteered to do makeup for them was to observe Maru.
She was curious about the secret that allowed Maru to possess that indescribable air about him in just one year.
She wondered if he had some special practicing methods or was learning from a good instructor.
If that wasn’t the case, perhaps he had excellent friends that synergized with him.

However, from what she saw, none of those cases applied to Maru.
Before, Maru jokingly said that she could only be reborn if she wanted to know the secrets of his acting skills.
Back then, she treated it like a joke, but it didn’t take long for her to realize that it was not a joke.
While it was true that there were some incredible people around Maru, he did not interact with them that much.
He always went to the small practice room and practiced acting with his juniors that had slightly disappointing skills.

Yet, in such an environment, his acting skills rose by the day.

The only plausible explanation was that his innate talent was huge.

Those frightening acting skills.
The absorption power that even made professional actors look at him subconsciously, as well as his expressivity that did not match his age.
She thought that he was above her in all of those aspects, became jealous, and did everything she could do to follow him.

“But why….”

Woosung High’s play was smooth.
No, it became smooth.
The tension that existed at the beginning of the play had died down, and after that, the play progressed like running water.
Maru and Daemyung solidly acted out their part, while the others, albeit not as good as those two, did their best to contribute to the completion of the play.
The play was going well without any huge flaws, but Yoojin became more frustrated by the moment.

The reason was simple.
Maru’s acting was no fun.
She wanted to watch him show her the same thing he did during the read-through.
She wanted to check with her own eyes how his acting skills, which, albeit unpolished and stood out from the rest last year, had changed this year.
She thought that he should have changed and that he would show her something different.
She continued watching the play while thinking about those things, but even now that the play was reaching its end, Maru did not show her any special acting skills.

Did his acting skills regress instead?

That was definitely possible.
While he managed to stand out even amongst many professional actors, maybe his skills were downgraded after having spent so much time with the ordinary kids.

No, it wasn’t really a downgrade.
After all, the play itself was going smoothly without any major flaws.
It wasn’t that his skills were lacking.
It just felt bland.
The heart-clenching excitement was gone.
She did not want to spend an entire Sunday just to watch something like this.

She became bored.
She felt like she shouldn’t have come to watch.
Since her high expectations snapped in just a short moment, she felt like she was being drained of energy.

Maru was someone she was inwardly jealous of.
She was envious of his skill.
At the same time, he made her look forward to the moment they would stand together in front of a camera.
A rival, of sorts.
She became fired up the more amazing Maru was, but it felt like someone poured cold water on top of the bonfire.

People that could act on that level could be seen everywhere in various acting schools.
Did she lose a competitive rival and gain a good friend? It disappointed her a lot.

‘Well, this girl said the same thing.
That he’s good but there was nothing amazing about him.’

Yoojin looked at her who was sitting next to her.
She could finally understand why she said that Maru didn’t show her anything special during the drama shoot, and she finally understood why.
Was what she saw from him back then a coincidence? A misunderstanding on her part?

“…So he can do things like that,” just then, she spoke.

Yoojin asked what was up.

He’s too good.”

“He’s good? Ah, I guess he’s good.
But honestly speaking, he disappoints me.”

“Why? How?”

She widened her eyes and asked with disbelief in them.
Yoojin explained what was on her mind; that it was just plain-old acting without anything special.

When she said that, she firmly shook her head.

“No, Maru’s acting is really incredible.
No, perhaps this isn’t about acting.
I can’t think of the right word right now.”

She looked forward with excitement.
Yoojin couldn’t understand.
Just what part of Maru’s current acting was ‘incredible’? Being ‘good’ and being ‘incredible’ definitely had different tones.

“Look at that.
Look at his expression when he exchanges lines with the others.
It’s very different.
At those moments, the other people’s expressions become more colorful.
It feels much more vivid.
Over there, he looked so unstable during his monologue, but he turns stable the moment he does something together with Maru.
No, it’s not just about the stability.
He becomes better.
His expressions become more confident.
Maru is inducing him to do that,” she spoke with conviction.


Yoojin was just looking at Maru until now.
Although she had a grasp over the overall situation, she was solely focused on Maru, so she did not notice the changes in the surrounding people.

But after listening to her words, she caught that clear difference.
The difference between the parts including Maru and the ones without Maru was huge.
However, it didn’t make the play become more awkward.
The parts Maru were in just became more filled with life and easier to watch.

“Yes, that’s right,” she spoke as though she finally remembered the word she forgot.

“Right now, Maru is….”

* * *

“He’s incredibly… skilled.”

“You could even call him wonderful.”

Pilhyun looked next to him.
The leader of the theater troupe was leaning forward as he watched the stage.
The professor was the same.
Although she was sitting back in her chair, her gaze as she looked in front of her had more depth than before.

Just until yesterday, they were drowning in boredom and yawns.
That applied to him as well.
It was very hard to give a lot of points in the ‘fun’ category when it came to highschool plays.
Although they watched the stages out of duty, they dozed off most of the time.

And for the first time today, they focused on the play with their full concentrations.
It was just because of one boy.

“Woosung High, huh.”

“What’s that fellow’s name?”

“Please wait a moment.”

Pilhyun put aside the scoring sheet and picked up the list of participating schools and students.
He found Woosung High as he read down the list.
He saw the name of the teacher in charge, the title of the play, as well as the students participating in the play.

“Salaryman, Han Maru.”

“Han Maru?”

“Is it a name you know?”

“No, I just thought it sounds rather unique.”

Pilhyun looked at the troupe leader.
He also said that he hadn’t heard of the name before.

“I’ve been judging youth acting festivals for quite a long time now.
I’ve seen many people come and go.
Among them, there were many students that showed acting skills that were unbelievable of their age.”

He then crossed his arms.

“And that fellow over there doesn’t seem to be lacking compared to those special students.
It’s very easy for an individual to do well.
They would pop out more that way.
However, tuning everyone else and bringing out the best of everybody is another talent in itself.
Just look at them.
The air of the stage changes whenever he enters and leaves the conversation.
I wouldn’t be this surprised if it was them just becoming more relaxed because they were used to being around him, but that fella is adjusting the tension with his tone of voice and the rhythm.”

“It looks like he clearly knows what group art is.
Usually, people his age would want to pop out from the rest and catch the eyes of the people.
There’s the individual prize as well.
But he… looks like he’s adjusting himself to match the rest.
He could do more if he wished to, but it looks like he’s refraining himself.
That doesn’t make him half-assed either.
The balance is good.”

The leader of the theater troupe and the female professor gave him extremely high praises.

Pilhyun agreed with them.
That boy knew what it meant to lead everyone.
It seemed like he knew how to share his own energy with the others.

Actors say there are other actors that they felt comfortable with shooting together.
That was what was meant by a synergizing actor.
Actors that raise the acting skills of one’s own even if he or she didn’t get along with that actor on a personal level.
There were a lot of such actors among supporting actors.

In Chungmuro, people always did the legwork in order to get such supporting actors into their movies.
The result was that four of the five currently-airing movies would feature the same supporting actor.
It sounded funny, but there were precedents.

‘Someone that brings out the best of others, huh.’

Pilhyun sucked in a deep breath and appreciated the play that was nearing its end.
He could feel the two next to him watching with their breaths abated as well.
Their interest in this new item they found within the boring stage became deeper.

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