Plays, musicals, contemporary dance, pantomime, physical and experimental theatre, performing acts for children and families _ you name it _ the Bangkok Theatre Festival returns for the 11th year this Saturday, highlighting the city's small yet thriving scene.
Silhouette Of God.
An annual bash for theatre enthusiasts, the three-week festival this year has been slightly scaled down due to the mourning period for the Supreme Patriarch. All performances will take place at two venues, the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre and the Pridi Banomyong Institute _ the festival's favourite outdoor area at Santichaiprakarn Park is, sadly, not part of the event this time.
Organised by the Bangkok Theatre Network in collaboration with Banglumphu Community, the Office of Contemporary Art and Culture, the Ministry of Culture and Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, the festival boasts nearly 60 performing arts troupes, both professional and amateur, including guest artists from abroad as well as local acts. Some shows are free while others charge an admission fee.
From this Saturday to Nov 17, let the fun, the deep and the controversial begin. Here's our pick of the festival.
San Dan Ka
Directed by Teerawat Mulvilai of B-Floor Theatre, San Dan Ka (Crow's Inborn Nature) is a performance that presents acts inimical to Buddhism, whether it's evilness, greed, drunkenness or desire. Known for his adept use of physical movement, this time Teerawat uses a Japanese Butoh dance to present the wickedness of those who use a monk's saffron robe as a cover.
Inspired by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu's teachings, the wickedness will be presented through the image of a crow _ a creature associated with greed, evildoing and desire. After the performance in Bangkok, San Dan Ka will feature in the Puebla International Theatre Festival in Mexico.
- Nov13 and14, at 7.15pm. 4th floor BACC. Tickets cost 500 baht (valid for two more performances), call 080-447-6553 for reservations.
San Dan Ka.
San Dan Ka.
Directed by Sornchai Chatwiriyachai of Malongdu Theatre, Silence: End is a Forum Theatre performance that doesn't just express ideas but invites the audience to take part too. The performance is comprised of a trio of one-act plays, recreating certain scenes to explore various issues in Thai society. There's a piece about a teenage mother which explores the issue of early sex and abortion, another story about an old woman who can't sleep because she lives next to a noisy pub, and a performance about sexual harassment by a monk. What makes this play stand out from others is how the audience can also join in as the character themselves.
- Nov2-3and9-10. At the plaza outside BACC. Free admission.
Silhouette Of God
Silhouette Of God
Based on the novel Khon Song Chao by Wimon Sainimnuan, Silhouette Of God is a play by Damkerng Thitapiyasak about spiritual belief, power, love and infatuation. Through physical theatre with Thai contemporary music, it tells the story of Kham, a farmer who doesn't believe in spirits and brings his pigs and cows to the knoll where there's a banyan tree in which the villagers believe a holy spirit resides.
After Kham decides to fell the sacred tree, a series of unfortunate events and tension follow. It is a performance about the interplay between spiritual beliefs and power, and the question of the existence of the spiritual.
Silhouette of God was first performed at the Second Indian Theatre Olympiad Global Theatre Festival in New Delhi in 1991, and this year's production is by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce's Department of Performing Arts.
- Nov 9-10 at 7pm. 4th floor BACC. Tickets cost 200 baht (valid for two moreperformances), call 080-447-6553 for reservations
I Am What I Am
I Am What I Am
Directed by Mahidol University's music theatre lecturer Shelly Cooper, I Am What I Am is a duo musical performance by Cooper and Corey Trahan. Accompanied by a keyboard piano, Cooper and Trahan present a comedy about a couple who date, marry, have children and stay together through difficult times. The musical presents the universal themes of love, self-doubt, the search for purpose and discovery.
The plot is propelled and the message delivered through classic Broadway show tunes from iconic musicals like Guys And Dolls, I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, The Last Five Years and La Cage A Folles as well as contemporary pop and folk music and action-driven lyrics which make the musical all the more captivating.
- Visit bangkoktheatrenetwork.comand facebook.com/BangkokTheatreFestival for a full scheduleand more information.
The Little Prince
The Little Prince
A comedy drama by Vietnam's Dragonfly Theatre Company, The Little Prince tells the story of an aviator who crashes in the Sahara where he meets a strange little boy, the Little Prince, who claims he's from a distant asteroid.
It's a story about the boy's encounters as he explores the meaning of the universe, from a pompous king who sings to no one, a manic businessman and an extremely vain talk show host to the fox and the snake he meets on Earth who affect him in the most profound ways possible.
Portrayed through the relationship between the aviator and the Little Prince, the play, which is directed by Jaime Zuniga, is about friendship, self-discovery and understanding the true value of things.
- Nov 2-3, at 7 pm. Children's Stage, BACC. Free admission.
Inspired by the novel How I Became Stupid by French writer Matin Page, M. Antoine is a black comedy by Ben Busarakamwong of Crescent Moon Theatre. The play tells the story of a smart boy who tries to become stupid through various means, from becoming an alcoholic, trying to commit suicide and have part of his brain removed because his intelligence has brought him a lot of stress and trouble.
Busarakamwong said he chose this story as an inspiration for his black comedy because he wanted to reflect the problems in Thai society through the context of the postmodern period in France.
- At Crescent Moon Space, Pridi Banomyong Institute, at 7.30pm on Nov 4-5, 7-8 and Nov 11-15. Tickets cost 350 baht. Call 085-110-1135 for reservations.
The Golden Deer
Directed by Sanchai Uaesilapa, The Golden Deer is a contemporary dance performance based on the Ramayana story of Rama and Mericha, portraying the beauty and the strength of the golden deer that's full of passion and power.
- At 1pm, Nov 9-10, 4th floor BACC, Tickets cost 500 baht (valid two more performances), call 080-447-6553 for reservations.
A psychological murder comedy by veteran director Nikorn Sae Tang, Killing Memory follows a murder case that explores the themes of truth, illusion, justice and survival.
- At 8pm, Nov 5-7, 4th floor BACC. Tickets cost 500 baht (valid for two more performances), call 080-447-6553 for reservations.
Land Of Smile
An opera by Napisi Reyes of Mahidol University's Classical Voice Department, Land Of Smile centres on the ill-fated romance between a Viennese countess and a Chinese prince.
- At 1.15pm, Nov 9, 4th floor BACC, Tickets cost 500 baht (valid for two more performances), call 080-447-6553 for reservations.
A traditional musical play by Pradit Prasartthong about the Chinese community in Siam after the political reform of the 1930s. The unique style of the musical was developed by the late National Artist Sudjit Duriyapraneet.
- At 7.50pm, Nov 15 and at 1.50pm Nov 16-17 , 4th floor BACC. Tickets cost 500 baht (valid for 2 more performances), call 080-447-6553 for reservations.
The Barn Owl
A musical by Korarit Seeboonruang of Black Bird Company, The Barn Owl is a story about a man name Ole who is trying to help an injured barn owl named Kadkaw, considered a bad omen by the villagers.
- At 7.15pm, Nov 8 and at 7.15pm Nov 12, 4th floor BACC. Tickets cost 500 baht (valid for two more performances), call 080-447-6553 for reservations.
The Naughty Rooster
A puppet show by Ladda Kongdej, The Naughty Rooster is about a boastful cockerel who tries to control all the animals in the farm, and a compassionate dog who devises a plan to help him become good.
- At 4pm, Nov 2 , and 4.20pm Nov 3. Centre stage, BACC, free admission.
A pantomime show by a three-person act, Babymime Show is back again this year with colourful costumes and a sense of humour that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike.
- At 7.40pm, Nov 9 and 10. Centre stage, BACC, free admission.
Through poetry, music and movement, Just Right is a story about how the rain falls in love with clay. It's about the power and the willingness to do anything for love. Directed by Kiatanun Jantayung.
- At 7.50pm, Nov 2 and at 7.30pm Nov 3. BACC, free admission.
A solo performance by Haruna Tsuchiya, Forget-Me-Not explores deep emotions from different periods and places with movements and songs influenced by the elements of East and West.
- Visit bangkoktheatrenetwork.com and facebook.com/BangkokTheatreFestival for a full schedule and more information.
Stars Of Tomorrow
Directed by Corey Trahan, Stars Of Tomorrow is a 30-minute concert of Broadway hits by vocalists and pianists from Mahidol University's Music Theatre Department.
The repertoire ranges from classic Broadway hits such as Anything Goes and West Side Story to more contemporary tunes from Rent, Jekyll And Hyde and Les Miserables.
- At 1.15pm, Nov 10, 4th floor BACC, Tickets cost 500 baht (valid two more performances), call 080-447-6553 for reservations.
Visit www.bangkoktheatrenetwork.com and www.facebook.com/BangkokTheatreFestival for a full schedule and more information.
I Am What I Am.