Jukebox or soap box?

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation



Lovebirds Fon (3rd left, Neungthida Sophon) and Phat (4th left, Napat

Lovebirds Fon (3rd left, Neungthida Sophon) and Phat (4th left, Napat

The revival of “Lom Haichai: The Musical” does nothing to rejuvenate the old story and the flawed script

When will we get to watch a real jukebox musical that offers a new interpretation of songs we know and love, like, for example, we enjoyed in “Mamma Mia”?

Aspiring director Santi Torwiwat was highly acclaimed for his professional debut “Wedding Day: The Musical” last year; but 10 minutes into Scenario’s revival production of “Lom Haichai: The Musical”, made a few very unprofessional mistakes. First, he had his conductor Piti Kayoonpan milk the audience’s applause – as if the audience hadn’t noticed that the music ensemble were upstage, not in the orchestra pit and as if this was not going to be an entertaining performance. Then, he had his supporting actors, portraying waitresses in a bar called “Three Seasons” do some movements reminiscent of the 1990’s British music theatre “Stomp”. And when we looked carefully at the details of this bar, we saw the logo of another famous bar, which happened to be a sponsor of this musical. Too much commercial plug-in, and as a result, I have now stopped going to that famous bar.

The script, which was written by seven wordsmiths – another record – didn’t help the young director either. The lead character Phat revealed the main theme in his first monologue, that we should truly live every moment in our life, but in the end, as the script slightly went off track, we’ were supposed to learn how to “Pass the love forward.” And throughout the running time of two hours plus, we felt that the script, which is so plot-driven that we learn very little about the characters’ backgrounds, was trying any possible way to get to a right moment for another song by Boyd Kosiyabong to begin. And when it did, we didn’t hear the new interpretation that we were expecting – just a cover version performance of these songs we know and love. Entertaining and predictable this musical was; romantic and touching it was not.

Napat “Gun The Star” Injaieua portrayed film director Phat – in the original version seven years ago this character was an architect – who couldn’t speak from his heart to his girlfriend Fon until it was too late. His performance reminded me of that of another Scenario regular Sukrit “Bie The Star” Wisetkaew. He was concentrating more on the audience, instead of his scene partners. Neungthida “Noona” Sophon, after getting a chance to develop a more mature character a few months ago in another musical “Thiraracha”, was back in the same stereotype of helpless young woman. That said, her singing skills have significantly improved and many audience members now look faorward to watching her in another stage musical.

Completing the love triangle was celebrated pianist Saksit “Tor” Vejsupaporn, who’s making his theatre debut in this musical. It was clear that he enjoyed putting his fingers on the keys more than singing and acting, and as a result his character To, secret admirer of Fon, occasionally disappeared from our focus. And to complement To’s piano prowess, the set designer placed a piano inside Phat’s apartment even though neither he nor his girlfriend, was able to play it.

As the three leads had some flaws, the show was stolen effortlessly by veteran singer Thanaporn “Parn” Waekprayoon whose portrayal of Chan keenly balanced comedy and drama and was filled with sincerity and compassion.

The curtain call gave me a sense of a deja vu as I found myself having exactly the same thought as seven years ago.

I should have just listened to Boyd Kosiyabong’s double album “Million Ways to Love” again instead of spending time and money on “Lom Haichai: The Musical”.


– “Lom Haichai: The Musical” continues this Friday to Sunday, and September 9 to 11. At Muangthai Rachadalai Theatre (MRT: Thailand Cultural Centre).

– Show time is 7.30pm with 2pm matinees on Saturday and Sunday.

– Tickets cost from Bt500 to

Bt 3,000, at ThaiTicketMajor. For more info, http://www.Rachadalai.com.

In bed with a stranger

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation



SIFA offers a unique theatregoing experience

Contemporary performance that’s not bound to any conventional venue can take you to an extraordinary place, physically as well as mentally. Such is the case with Argentine director, playwright, actor and visual artist Fernando Rubio’s “Everything by My Side”, which was staged at the Supreme Court Terrace on the fourth floor of the National Gallery over the opening weekend of Singapore International Festival of Arts (Sifa) 2016.

Each of the 10 actresses – one of them local and the others from the countries in which this work has been staged – lay on one side of a white bed. For their part, audience members were assigned bed numbers and told to study the instructions, one of which was that we should always remain silent from the moment we lay down next to the actress until the moment she said “I see you soon”. In the waiting area I spotted a blind woman being guided by her dog, and was pleased that unlike most other performances, this was one to be heard and felt, rather than watched. A staff member, having noticed that most audience members were not lying on their sides facing the actresses but on their backs, emphasised this instruction.

I closely followed the instructions and for about 10 minutes my bedmate whispered a personal story that was hers as much as mine – I could easily relate to and learn from it. Evidently a seasoned thespian, and notwithstanding a Latin American accent, her diction was always clear and the shift from staring up past my shoulder and looking straight into my eyes made the transition from the story’s past into the present clearer. While I wished the story were longer and I could savour this special moment more, it was indeed fulfilling. At the end I couldn’t help but say, “Thank you,” to which she didn’t reply but simply smiled, her eyes brimming with emotion. That was the parting and long-lasting image that still brings a smile to my face whenever I recall it.

That memorable experience also reminded me of US-born, UK-based performance artist Brian Lobel’s “You Have to Forgive Me, You Have to Forgive Me, You Have to Forgive Me”, which I attended last summer at Edinburgh Fringe. For that, I filled out a long questionnaire the evening before – it took me an hour to finish. Lobel, having studied my answers, would pick an appropriate episode of “Sex and the City” to watch together in its entirety on his laptop computer and discuss relationship issues with me, in pyjamas, in a bed set up in a corner of a theatre lobby, while onlookers watched the same episode on another TV screen and eavesdropped on our conversation.

This kind of experiential performance may not be commercially feasible – the box office would never cover the production cost – but it highlights the direct interaction between the audience and performer and the emphasis on each individual, and is a real experience. Even augmented reality games like “Pokemon Go” can’t match it. This doesn’t cause traffic accidents either – you’re in the most comfortable position, lying in bed, not walking on the sidewalk.


– Seen at Lincoln Centre Festival last month, Huang Ruo’s music theatre “Paradise Interrupted” opens this Wednesday.

– Opening a day later is choreographer Trajal Harrell’s “In the Mood for Frankie”. Harrell will also perform his solo “The Return of La Argentina” on Sunday.

– SIFA continues until September 17. Admission ranges from free to S$80 (20-per-cent discount

for students and seniors).

– For reservations and more details, go to http://www.SIFA.sg.


Straight man in a crooked country

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation



A special edition of the award-winning musical turns out to be the better of the two

After hosting Bangkok’s 1st International Children’s Theatre Festival in June, Bangkok Art and Culture Centre’s (BACC) 5th Performative Art Festival (PAF) continues with Anatta Theatre Troupe’s “Dragon’s Heart (Special Edition)”. This is Silpathorn artist Pradit Prasartthong’s revival, not restage, of “Mangkon Salat Klet: The Musical” seen at Thailand Cultural Centre last year and awarded best musical book by IATC Thailand.

This “special edition” turns out to be the stage equivalent of the “director’s cut”, with Pradit telling this poignant story the way he wants to and leaving the audience |wondering whether the version they watched last year was actually the “producers’ cut”. Indeed, it looked very like an event staged to honour the centenary of the birth of Puey Ungphakorn, late governor of the Bank of Thailand, rector of Thammasat University and Magsaysay Award recipient.

Instead of recounting this long tale chronologically from his young days when he was denying his Chinese roots the way the grand-scale musical did last year for the wider public, the new “Dragon’s Heart starts with the core member of the Free Thai Movement landing with his parachute in Chainat province by mistake. By the end of the first act, the story has already reached the October 1973 student demonstration. That means the second act is meatier, and less biographical. And as the audience witnesses social and political conflicts – in public and in private, on university grounds as well as a restaurant and the family dining room – we are reminded again of the struggle and the blood and tears spilt for the sake of our democracy. As a result, instead of simply worshipping this statesman, his deeds and words, we learn from them and make sure we make our present and future better than the recent past we witness on the stage. For me personally, it highlights a question to which I can find no response: is it because of the system or the people or just how we succumb to the way of the country?

The traverse stage configuration, putting the audience on both sides of the performance area, fits the play as it draws us closer to the stage actions and the messages. Set props are kept to the minimum on the bare stage, although some pieces are too heavy and the sound of rolling them into the performance area interferes with the music. Lighting also helps differentiate the scenes and sets up the right mood and tone on this blank canvas.

Instead of casting different actors |to portray lead characters at different |ages the way he did last year, Pradit |allows his lead performers Passakorn Rungruengdechapat, as Puey, and Tanyarat Pradittan, as his wife Margaret, to show their acting prowess as their characters age realistically. As a professional singer, the former’s singing skills far surpass those of the latter, but there again the musical score, highly influenced by lakhon rong, is truly demanding. Another acting and singing delight is award-winning actress Janya Thanasawangkul, as Puey’s mother, who occasionally appears in his subconscious, and whose appearance is alerted by smoke starting to fill the stage.

Despite a cast of only 14, most of whom perform different roles in different scenes (with even some leads appearing in supporting roles), the crowd scene never looks sparse. Likewise, music director Gandhi Wasuvitchayagit deftly leads his four-musician ensemble who produce a sound more textured and layered than what we would expect from two pianos, one violin, one Thai flute and percussion.

And in a piece of good news for the non-Thai speaking audience who would like to enjoy a contemporary Thai musical, this special edition comes equipped with English surtitles, accurately translated though difficult to read at times when the stage lights are full on.

His life and works

– As part of BACC’s 5th Performative Art Festival, Anatta Theatre Troupe’s “Dragon’s Heart (Special Edition)” is at BACC’s 4th floor studio (BTS: National Stadium) until September 4.

– Showtime is 7pm, with 2pm performances on Saturday and Sunday.

– It’s staged daily, except Monday and Tuesday, in Thai with English surtitles.

– This week’s tickets are Bt600 (Bt350 for students) and next week’s are Bt700 (Bt450 for students). Call (094) 492 4424. For more information, visit Facebook.com/AnattaTheatre


Catching up with the world of theatre

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation



The Singapore International Festival of Arts kicks off with international masterpieces

The 2016 edition of the Singapore International Festival of Arts (Sifa) kicked off on August 11, with by-invitation-only guests packing out the Drama Centre Theatre at the National Library. Marking the worldwide Shakespeare 400 celebration this year and underlining “Potentialities”, as the main theme of Sifa 2016, was “Hamlet l Collage”, Canadian director Robert Lepage’s collaboration with Russia’s Theatre of Nations.

The piece is both a visual and acting masterpiece in which human skills and technological prowess live happily together. Set designer Carl Fillion created an automated cube that was raised above the stage, Lionel Arnould filled it with images, Lepage and Bruno Matte added their lighting design, and Thomas Payette his videos, and the result was a series of selected scenes of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” seen through the mind of an actor portraying the title character. The clue was given through his costume in the first scene when Evgeny Mironov appeared as the actor. Mironov has been recognised |as a Distinguished Artist of Russia and showed the audience that he merited this honour throughout his 125-minute solo performance. Not only did he perform and shift into and out of several roles with ease and at different paces, but he also mastered his entrances into and exits out of the cube.

It’s always fun watching a play you know well staged in a way that you have never dreamed off and in an era when computer graphics and film viewing experience like 4DX take us to places we never imagined, watching live theatre can still put you at the edge of your seat.

I recall my experience two decades ago watching Lepage performing solo in his production “Hamlet” and my amazement at seeing a second actor taking a bow alongside him at the curtain call. He didn’t keep that secret this time as it was evident to the audience that another non-speaking actor was necessary in certain scenes. At the curtain call, though, more than 10 backstage crew members who had helped manoeuvre this technically demanding work also took a bow with the two actors. There’s more to it than meets the eyes in this composite art known as theatre, and our appreciation was truly due.

Meanwhile at the historic Victoria Theatre, the audience sampled a different dramatic flavour as Egyptian playwright and director Ahmed El Attar’s “The Last Supper” offered a rare look not only into contemporary Egyptian theatre but also post-Arab Spring bourgeoisie, which is something we don’t see on the TV news.

This colourful production showcased different generations of actors and their characters’ dialogues, as well as their love of selfies, were filled with such absurdity that I was reminded of many people I know who simply do not care about – and are thus never affected by – what’s happening around them. When dramatic tension rose, El Attar masterfully put in a visual pause, as main actors froze, the stage was swathed with red light and the servant brought in more food at a slow pace.

A major problem for the Asia premiere of this unique treat was that the English surtitles screen was placed too high above the 10 actors who delivered their Arabic dialogue at natural speed. Most members of the audience were thus forced to choose between watching the actors and guessing what they were saying, or reading the surtitles and missing out on the stage action. The dark comedy lost touch with many spectators as a result.

Much more to see

– Don’t miss this week Javanese dance master Sardono W Kusumo’s “Black Sun” and internationally acclaimed Singaporean playwright Huzir Sulaiman’s “The Last Bull: A Life in Flamenco”, in which he traces the life and works of flamenco dancer and choreographer Antonio Vargas.

– Creator of the Athens Olympics opening and closing ceremonies Dimitris Papaioannou will also stage the visual theatre “Still Life”.

– Sifa continues through September 17 at various venues.

– Admission prices range from free to SGD 80 (20percent discount for students and seniors).

– For reservation and more details, visit http://www.SIFA.sg.


Getting creative with drama

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation




The Thai adaptation of a contemporary American play is a charming treat

We take swimming classes in order to be able to swim and driving lessons to be able to drive but of course we don’t aim to win an Olympic gold or an F1 race when we sign up. But what about acting classes? In fact most of those who have taken acting classes are not working as professional actors and several of the TV and movie superstars we know today might never have taken one. Many acting coaches, meanwhile, are running personality development classes, applying acting techniques and exercises for non-performers.

In 2009, American playwright Annie Baker won Obie Awards’ best new American play for her “Circle Mirror Transformation”, which was staged across the Pond at London’s Royal Court Theatre a few years later. Thai playwright, director and actor Jaturachai Srichanwanpen watched the AEC premiere last year while pursuing his graduate degree in Singapore and asked his long-time collaborator Parnrut Kritchanchai to translate it and give it a Thai context.

The result is “Lapta hen thungya khiaokhachi mi wua neung tua”, or “The Moo Moo Field”, in which Jaturachai directs a strong ensemble of five thespians: Kittiphon Udomrattanakulchai, Kriengkrai Fookasem, Khalid Midam, Punika Rangchaya, and Nualpanod Nat Khianpukdee.

The latter two have less stage experience than the former three and yet this play looks and sounds as if they have spent a great deal of time together. Credit is due to Jaturachai who deftly hones their acting style and unifies them here.


Khru Matthani, played by Kittiphon in a rare speaking role considering her butoh and physical theatre credits, runs a six-week acting class involving exercises to hone relaxation, imagination and characterisation. Her husband Samat – Kriengkrai in yet another memorable performance – is a member of the class. Other participants are divorced carpenter Chat, played effortlessly by Khalid, former actress Sarin, portrayed by Nualpanod, who delivers an engaging performance, and high-school student Tuabung (Punika in a convincing portrayal) whose class fees are still due,

For audience members who haven’t been to acting classes, this is an eye-opening experience. For those who have, the play will recall fond and heartfelt memories. For all those watching, this is a charming evening at the theatre that doesn’t aim for a strong climax but lets the audience take it in slowly, subtly and yet passionately.

The problem is that acting classes in the US, which is the original script are referred to as “adult creative drama” class”, differ a great deal from their Thai counterparts. Tuabung even asks Khru Matthani whether, with all these exercises, she will get an opportunity to really perform and, in another scene, questions the purposes of the exercise.

I wish Parnrut and Jaturachai had taken the adaptation further – the way Parnrut usually does in her adaptations of western plays. The result might have been an acerbic commentary on theatre education and actor training here.

With three lamps hanging from the ceiling, a standing mirror and a soft floor, Jirakit Sonthornlarpyod creates a simple but believable acting classroom. I especially enjoyed the moments when they’re in-between classes and their similarities and differences in and out of the classroom reconfirm that acting is simply doing and being in the moment, and not creating someone who’s larger than life.

What can you see?

The last show of “The Moo Moo Field” is tonight at 7.30pm, at Democrazy Studio, a 5minute walk from MRT Lumphini station, exit 1.

It’s in Thai with no English surtitles.

Tickets are Bt 550 at (086) 899 5669.

Next up is “Happy Hunting Ground”, Democrazy Studio’s collaboration with Germany’s Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, with four Thai and two German actors.

The world premiere is at Sodsai Pantoomkomol Centre for Dramatic Arts from September 13, before touring to Burapha University, Karlsruhe and Bern, Switzerland.

For more details, check Facebook.com/DemocrazyStudio.


A robot tale’s wound down by narration

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation



Dorothy went on another adventure with the mechanical man Tik-Tok. Photo/Nutpajee Praparat

Dorothy went on another adventure with the mechanical man Tik-Tok. Photo/Nutpajee Praparat

Dorothy went on another adventure with the mechanical man Tik-Tok. Photo/Nutpajee Praparat

Dorothy went on another adventure with the mechanical man Tik-Tok. Photo/Nutpajee Praparat


More dramatic action is needed if kids are to enjoy this new stage play

Surachai Petsangrot is another hyperactive theatre artist. Seven months into the year and we’ve already three of his works, each of them very different in style and content. They range from “Lone Man and the Flowers” in which his artist friends from many disciplines responded to his visual art works in five different rooms of Thong Lor Art Space (TLAS) to the more intimate work “Home” in which he gave time and space for his actors to share their stories at B-Floor Room.

He’s now back on the first floor studio of TLAS with a new work he has both designed and directed. Based on the character created by L Frank Baum in “The Marvellous Land of Oz” and “Ozma of Oz”, Surachai wrote “The Adventure of Tik-Tok, Man of Oz” in Thai and Bangkok-based English actor James Laver, who also portrays the title character, translated it into English.

For the first 10 minutes or so, the script takes the audience back to the story most of us know, that of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”, and then tells how Dorothy travelled back to the nearby Ev, where she met Tik-Tok. A major flaw here is there is so much narration that it sounds and feels as if we’re listening to someone telling the story, some parts of which are acted out, instead of watching a play filled with dramatic actions. And in terms of stage adaptation, there’s another question: how this story is relevant to us here and now, rather than just being a lesser known story that’s stage-worthy.

The play is being performed in English, with English and Thai surtitles, and herein lies another problem. It reminded me of news clip where someone is speaking English with an accent and English subtitles are put on as if he’s not speaking English. With Laver being the only actor with English as his mother tongue, the play suffers in the same way as the English version of “Stick Figures” staged here two months ago. In fact, the problem is more crucial here as any children’s play requires exceptional diction from all the actors. In this production, however, most of the five Thai performers are not really comfortable with their English. Given that Surachai’s creations of Tik-Tok’s costume and mechanism are such a delight, I wonder whether the play would deliver its messages, especially to the children, were the play performed in Thai.


Laver – in such a fantastical outfit and only one of the two characters apart from Dorothy in full costume – would then speak Thai with an accent.

Surachai’s set design deftly draws the audience into this fantastical world by using the arena stage setting with many different levels for the audience to sit. The floor is nicely adorned with a yellow brick road and house models made from cardboard boxes are overhead among the lights. Sound effects are created live by many instruments and add further enjoyment to this 70-minute play.

The greatest risk of all is not taking one and although this risk might not pay off successfully, the audience have enough reason to applaud the artists for their experimental spirit.

The press preview of “Tik-Tok” took place two days after New Theatre Society’s “The Place of Hidden Painting” ended its run at TLAS. Bravo to the space for offering us so much diversity.


A blast from the present

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation



'Fire at Sea, the winner of Berlin International Film Festival 2006’s Golden Bear award, closed The O.P.E.N. Films at the Capitol Theatre. Photo/Gianfranco Rosi

‘Fire at Sea, the winner of Berlin International Film Festival 2006’s Golden Bear award, closed The O.P.E.N. Films at the Capitol Theatre. Photo/Gianfranco Rosi

Indonesia’s Senyawa amazed the “Club Malam” crowd with their unique sound. Photo/Ruth Lo

Indonesia’s Senyawa amazed the “Club Malam” crowd with their unique sound. Photo/Ruth Lo


Singapore’s pre-festival of ideas finished with a bang

While the upcoming Singapore International Festival of Arts’ (SIFA) main programmes mainly features dance and theatre, its pre-festival of ideas, namely The OPEN offers a wider variety of disciplines, tapping into visual arts, fashion as well as music and film.

In Singapore for the Open’s last afternoon and evening, I started with the exhibition at 72-13 titled “I Know Why the Rebel Sings” by Iranian |photojournalist Newsha Tavakolian, who had been in town earlier to give an inspirational talk. Later, at |the Capitol Theatre I watched Gianfranco Rosi’s “Fuocoammare” (“Fire at Sea”), the closing film of a mini film festival that also included Pimpaka Towira’s “The Island Funeral”. Both document real people and actual events that are taking place in other parts of the world. With keen eyes in capturing and editing, neither forces the messages on viewers but instead allows them to think and feel their relevance to our lives.

My last OPEN experience was the multi-disciplinary blast “Club Malam” at the Old Kallang Airport, close to the National Stadium. Outside the main terminal, now no longer in use, were German artists Julius von Bismarck and Julian Charriere’s “Clockwork”, in which 12 concrete mixers were set up in a clock-like circle, and Mark Formanek’s “Standard Time”, in which crew members change the time display by hand every minute from twilight to midnight. At the entrance was one food truck, and this limited option was one reason I didn’t stay for long.

Inside, Yogyakarta-based music duo Senyawa was capturing the audience with their unique singing style and instruments, a performance based on tradition and infused with experimental spirit. Video works by Singaporean artists Brandon Tay and Eugene Soh added to the visual vibe and another local visual artist Farizwan “Speak Cryptic” Fajari ” brought in more of a human element as scores of young performers known collectively as “The Tribe” moved around from one corner to another. Local duo NADA, who also had experimental fun with traditions, took the stage later on. On the mezzanine floor, audiences were invited to get a temporary tattoo designed by Marc Brandenburg and learn how to do origami.


In short, and like the entire |pre-festival itself, Club Malam, which was conceived by the director of the Open Noorlinah Mohamed, offered something for just about everyone. Visitors could enjoy it at their own path and pace, and the juxtaposition of all of these elements encouraged reflection on the wide variety, and possibility, of contemporary arts, and why we’re only exposed to limited parts of them.

The pre-festival pass, priced at S$45(Bt1,150) and only S$ 25 for local and international students, allowed admission to all 43 programmes over three weeks. The total number of spectators was almost 40-per-cent higher than last year and double the attendance at the first edition in 2014.

“The most amazing outcome has been the uptake of audiences to quality public engagement through ideas, debunking the approach that community engagement requires a simplification of art so as to make it less elitist,” said festival director Ong Ken Sen.

“Perhaps we are finally getting it right in this, the third year. In any event, it’s reassuring that we are headed in the right direction.”

Let’s see how this excitement carries on to this month’s SIFA.


When the body remembers

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation



Olivier Saillard's “Models Never Talk” was like a living exhibition with models' movements making it look like a dance performance. Photo/Giovanni Giannoni

Olivier Saillard’s “Models Never Talk” was like a living exhibition with models’ movements making it look like a dance performance. Photo/Giovanni Giannoni

Fashion may come and go but models’ bodies still have memories of certain dresses they wore

One of the most memorable parts of The O.P.E.N, the prequel to the Singapore International Festival of Arts, was French fashion historian Olivier Saillard’s performance “Models Never Talk”. Staged at 72-13 on a white set that looked like a fashion photo shoot, it featured seven fashion models – namely Christine Bergstrom, Axelle Doue, Charlotte Flossaut, Claudia Huidobro, Anne Rohart, Violeta Sanchez and Amalia Vairelli – attired in black body suits. The ladies sat on, in front of and next to the five identical chairs brought in by stage managers, striking poses, then taking turns to walk downstage to recount their recollections of certain dresses, the memories of which had remained imprinted on their bodies and minds long after they first modelled them in the 1980s and ’90s.

Without the actual clothes, their well-chosen words – of note is that almost all the models were not speaking in their mother tongues – gracefully delivered anecdotes about these outfits. The pace was unhurried, the hand gestures every bit as precise as those in dance choreography, and the delight in the telling, frequently with humour, not only made those clothes come alive in our imagination, but also the relevant people, place and time. One model, for example, explained how it was so difficult for her to walk in a tightly draped dress designed by fashion icon Madame Gres that she had to keep kicking the dress – a physical movement that later became her signature on the catwalk.

The image painted by their verbal and non-verbal languages was so clear and the impressions so strong that the last scene when each of them showed a photograph of themselves in those particular dresses and recreated the same pose seemed somewhat redundant.

The performance was not for the sake of nostalgia, though, as the experience reminded us that the models are also behind the success of these dresses and designers. It also reconfirmed that models are performers who can express themselves verbally as well as physically, without having to be cast in reality-TV-cum-soap-operas like “The Face”. Of course, once on stage, they’re performing and presenting to us only the parts of themselves they want us to see. Catching a glimpse of them smoking cigarettes outside the stage door before the show allowed a brief look into their real lives.

Much credit is due to Saillard, who is the director of the Paris Galliera, “Models Never Talk” was so alluring that it grasped my full attention for an entire hour, notwithstanding its monotonous pace. Come to think of it, I’ve reached a certain age when I much prefer works that are simple and clear to those that are overfilled with words and images.

I also adhere more to the notion that less is more and I still believe that we go to the theatre to experience what we cannot experience elsewhere.

Once again, The O.P.E.N. lived up to the meaning of its acronyms—open, participate, engage and negotiate—and the slogan “Be open to the individual in you” which encourages different interpretations. With its theme-oriented curation scheme, The O.P.E.N. effectively prepared the audience for the upcoming main festival SIFA with this year’s theme of potentialities.

And that’s not just a big word used by academics but one which duly explains a major characteristic of contemporary arts – that the future is indeed wide open.

Not long to wait

– Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) 2016 begins August 11 and runs until September 17 at various venues.

– Admission prices range from free to SGD 80 (20-per-cent discount for students and seniors).

For reservation and more details, visit http://www.SIFA.sg.

Where old and new collide

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation



Set designer Jirakit Sunthornlapyos and lighting designer Tawit Keitprapai make the small studio look not only larger but just like the rooms in an old mansion. Photo/Tawit Keitprapai

Set designer Jirakit Sunthornlapyos and lighting designer Tawit Keitprapai make the small studio look not only larger but just like the rooms in an old mansion. Photo/Tawit Keitprapai

The return of the family's youngest sister Potchaman (Pariya Wonrabiab, right) and the introduction of her new love Rain Junior (Jirakit Sunthornlapyos, on the floor) shakes the world of Khunying Kirati (Nilacha Fuengfukiat) and Chai Klang (Supasawat Bur

The return of the family’s youngest sister Potchaman (Pariya Wonrabiab, right) and the introduction of her new love Rain Junior (Jirakit Sunthornlapyos, on the floor) shakes the world of Khunying Kirati (Nilacha Fuengfukiat) and Chai Klang (Supasawat Bur


New Theatre Society’s new comedy is more than a simple laughing matter

The two core members of New Theatre Society, namely Damkerng Thitapiyasak and Parnrut Kritchanchai, are both in action this month. The former staged “Sainam Morakot”, based on the life of Madame Mao, at Thailand Cultural Centre’s small hall last weekend and the latter’s “Ni khue sathan haeng phap khanglang”, or “The Place of Hidden Painting”, is now being staged at Thong Lor Art Space (TLAS). Both directors are known for their Thai adaptations of foreign plays, and Parnrut is also especially renowned for her comedies, the humour of which oftentimes waters down their messages and interrupts the flow of the play. That’s not the case, however, in her latest work.

It’s not that she has cut down on her comedic ammunition, which as a whole is like a weapon of mass destruction blasting the audience with all kinds and levels of comedy, jokes included. If you’ve a bad day, this play is the perfect medicine as well as another hit for TLAS.

Inspired by the Tony Award-winning play “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” by Christopher Durang, Parnrut has as its centre three siblings named after popular characters from Thai novels, namely Chai Klang, Khunying Kirati and Potchaman. The former two, who still live in the old world of those novels, live in their old mansion in the woods along with their nurse Nom Thip. Their conversation resembles lines directly taken from Thai novels, in which the beauty of the language, as opposed to the colloquial counterpart, can be cherished. Potchaman on the other hand is a TV actress, who has long supported them but is now considering selling the house. She is also the link to the contemporary world, bringing with her Rain Junior, her new, and much too young, Korean-looking singer boyfriend and Tui, a young woman who is one of Potchaman’s die-hard fans and is visiting her grandparents nearby.

With a central conflict this clear, both the comedy and the drama move along smoothly, marred only towards the end when Chai Klang’s monologue comes across as somewhat didactic and contrived.


As Chai Klang, veteran actor Supasawat Buranavej, after having stolen many scenes in previous works, is a leading man well equipped with clear diction, spot-on characterization and arresting physicality. Fellow veteran Nilacha Fuengfukiat, as Kirati, is never overshadowed by his performance. Supasawat is reunited here with Pariya Wonrabiab as Photchaman, who was his co-star in New Theatre Society’s Thai translation of David Ives’ “The Universal Language”, which won the pair top acting prizes at the Bangkok Theatre Festival. In this play, the trio becomes the three-headed comedic monster with solid support from Donruedee Jamraschai who is always believable as Nom Thip, a character much older than herself.

The two young thespians, Chanida Panyaneramitdi as Tui and Jirakit Sunthornlapyos as Rain Junior, shine through on occasion though the former is far too often cast as a young and innocent woman. Much credit is also due for the latter’s set design, which deftly makes use of the space inside and outside the studio on the 3rd floor of TLAS. Tawit Keitprapai’s lighting design greatly helps in the telling of this story by clearly defining the rooms and separating the realistic from the surrealistic.

Bangkok is a city of contrasts where the immediacy of the social media co-exists and at times clashes with centuries-old tradition, which the play underlines with ease.

And now we’re being encouraged to wear clothes made of Thai fabrics every Friday. Does this request to make us look like models in Tourism Authority of Thailand’s posters come with bonus money for extra laundry and electricity bills? Or should we get back to writing letters and taking them to the post office on our bicycles?

Let the debate on what is, and is not, Thai continue.

Last laugh tonight

The last performance of “The Place of Hidden Painting” is at 7.30 tonight at Thong Lor Art Space, a three-minute walk from BTS Thonglor Exit 3. It’s in Thai with no English surtitles. Tickets are Bt550 (Bt350 for students).

– Next up at Bangkok’s most prolific venue is Surachai Petsangrot’s “The Adventures of Tik-Tok Man of Oz”, running from Friday to August 21. It’s in English with Thai surtitles. Tickets are Bt550 (Bt350 for students and Bt300 for kids not taller than 120 cm.)

– There are also free puppetry workshops, every Saturday and Sunday at 2pm throughout the run. Tickets for both can be booked at (095) 924 4555.

– Find out more at Thong Lor Art Space’s Facebook page.


Documenting euthanasia

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation



In a rare light moment, Markus & Markus toyed with the idea of death, and the theme song of

In a rare light moment, Markus & Markus toyed with the idea of death, and the theme song of “Ghostbusters” was played. Photo/komun.ch

Markus & Markus reenacted their time with Margot who enjoyed the flowers in springtime Dusseldorf. Photo/komun.ch

Markus & Markus reenacted their time with Margot who enjoyed the flowers in springtime Dusseldorf. Photo/komun.ch


A German theatre collective incites debate and discussion at a prefestival of ideas in Singapore

A composer acquaintance of mine passed away recently. His younger sister was at his bedside in the hospital and she and her husband, also a composer, then took it upon themselves to put the finishing touches to his last and unfinished composition, which she also sang. At the funeral, they handed out a CD with both this song and other finished ones. The CD has been on my office desk for a few weeks now and I don’t know when I’ll be able to listen to it. It’s a piece of art I don’t want to enjoy, at least not yet.

Two years ago, when Markus & Markus, German political theatre collective, made up of performers Markus Schafer and Markus Wenzel, dramaturg and manager Lara-Joy Hamann, designer Manuela Pirozzi and video artist Katarina Eckold, were conducting research for “Ibsen: Ghosts” the second instalment of their contemporary adaptation trilogy of Henrik Ibsen’s plays, they were told about Margot, an 81-year-old woman living alone in Dusseldorf. With no relatives to worry about, she was planning euthanasia and was willing to have them document the last month of her life. The young theatre makers did just that and also drove her to Basel, Switzerland where euthanasia is legal, and stayed with her until the end.

Last year, they premiered the documentary theatre work “Ibsen: Ghosts” in Germany and have since been invited to stage it at many festivals in Europe. Last weekend at the School of the Arts (SOTA) studio as part of the closing weekend of The OPEN, a pre-festival of ideas for the Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA), the Asian premiere offer audiences a uniquely harrowing |experience.

The artists walked a thin moral line here. In the documentary film, Margot enjoyed their company so much that she said if they kept coming to visit her she might change her mind. Had that been the case, then of course we wouldn’t have watched “Ibsen: Ghosts”. In the original play, a masterpiece of naturalistic drama from the last quarter of the 19th century, Mrs. Alving was faced with the dilemma of whether or not to put an end to the life of her son Oswold who was suffering from a terminal disease. Both Margot and the accompanying theatre makers, by contrast, were more determined in what they set out to do, notwithstanding some hesitation. Many of us here in Asia, because we live in societies that are based on the institution of family, can better relate to Alving’s situation and images of relatives discussing this matter with doctors at hospitals are not uncommon. Neither is the sight of doctors who need to unplug life support apparatuses in order to make available the bed for those who still have a chance to live. Of course, both these cases are recorded as natural death.


Film excerpts showed Margot’s last month in Dusseldorf – in a park, at a supermarket, at her neighbours’, in her living room and at her dining table, in addition to her last moments of life, when Schafer and Wenzel sat among the audience, watching her last breath. Eckold, probably wisely, decided to the mute the sound a few moments before. These excerpts were juxtaposed with the two performers’ re-enactment of their time with Margot using many of the props from the old lady’s former apartment, and performance of related texts. The duo aimed for imperfection in their acting, but the “try not to act” mode, actually more artful and less realistic, was in a stark contrast to the reality of the film, and at many moments I found myself wishing for the next chapter of the film to start.

How we respond to death and loss varies from one religion, culture and country to another. And our background plays an important part in our judgement, which is partly why I’ve been expressing my strong reactions to both the content and form of this documentary play for more than a week now. I’ve been so outspoken that many friends wanted to watch it, and that’s how contemporary theatre, as democratic as it is, should also be – inciting debate, discussion and disagreement among the audience.

And it’s also a very good example of what any international performing arts festival should do – select a performance that doesn’t spoon feed the audience with the familiar in their comfort zone, but always challenges their morals.

When I met with the German company an afternoon after watching their work, one member asked me, “Do you know Ibsen?” Evidently, it’s their first time performing outside Europe and I should have told them that I watched a Thai translation of Ibsen’s “Ghosts” before they were even born.

Plenty of potential

The Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) 2016 runs from August 11 to September 17 at various venues. Admission prices range from free to SGD 80 (20percent discount for students and seniors). For reservations and more details, visit http://www.SIFA.sg.