A quintuple bill of works offers a glimpse into the creative minds of young Thai playwrights and directors
HAVING RECENTLY bagged the IATC Thailand award for best play of 2016 and with their first work this year earning critical acclaim, Splashing Theatre is indeed the theatre company to watch. Last month, they invited six playwrights and directors of the same generation – all a few years out of university – to create five new works set in different eras collectively called “Chrono o’clock”.
And notwithstanding the small area of Syrup the Space, all of them had much fun moving their actors and audience around it, and even outside in the courtyard at front – a reminder that creativity can be sparked by limitation, not just from freedom.
Napim Singtoroj’s “The Elephant’s Story”, on the topic of free will, took the audience back to the Middle Ages and deftly played with reality and illusion. While parts of the script sounded like excerpts from translated novels – the credit notes that she was inspired by a few – the play, thanks in part to her staging, was engaging throughout.
A piano came alive and the two young mechanics needed to deal with it in Tarin Parinyakanit’s “Machina”, set in the age of the industrial revolution. While the three actors did their best in voice projection in the vast courtyard, they couldn’t hold the audience’s attention all the time. A security guard walking up and down the stairs, for example, was an element over which the director had no control.
Galiray-o Is Weird
Back inside and now in the period of scientific revolution, Wit Saen-atharn’s “Galiray-o Is Weird” was much lighter and communicated with the audience better as it reminded us of the “weirdness” in us all. The mood shifted again as we were escorted out to the foyer and Pathavee Thepkraiwan and Patiphol Asawamahaphong’s queer performance “Wig in the Box” invited the audience to Pandora’s birthday party in ancient Greece amidst paper boxes scattered all over the space. The evening ended in pre-historic times with Thongchai Pimapansri’s physical theatre “What I Talk When I Talk About Grinding”, with some political innuendo, presented by two young performers with different levels of physical movement prowess, which unfortunately proved a major drawback.
What I Talk When I Talk About Grinding
The whole evening at this space lasted almost three hours and showed that there’s much hope for the future of contemporary Thai theatre. And although it’s a fact that there are not many jobs and opportunities for young playwrights and directors who do not want to join the existing groups, it came as a relief to see and feel the strength of their passion.
It’s noteworthy that in these five thematically and stylistically diverse works, most of these young theatre makers stuck to their comfort zones, working in the style and subject matter with which they’re accustomed. I wonder how it would turn out if, for example, Tarin wrote a play that had nothing to do with classical music or Pathavee shifted from a queer performance. After all, when you’re that young and vibrant, you should perhaps keep in mind that there are many other issues to research and explore in our society and many theatrical styles with which to experiment.
Also noticeably, all six playwrights and directors staged their own works, with performers they’re already familiar with, and I wonder how these works would have been different had they had a chance to work with more experienced directors and seasoned performers. Theatre, after all, is a collaborative art and although artistic collaboration also means aesthetic discord, learning from mistakes is always part of any artist’s life.
Meanwhile, Syrup the Space, in Liberty Plaza, Soi Thonglor on the Saen Saep canal, continues to be one of the most thriving venues for contemporary Thai theatre.
- Splashing Theatre will soon announce the dates of their new work, the third this year. Keep track of them at Facebook.com/SplashingTheatre.