Thailand’s most prominent mime artist and founder of the well-known troupe Konnakhao Mime, Paitoon Laisakul, passed away at the age of 55 on Wednesday night.
Paitoon, who suffered from heart disease, was pronounced dead at 11.30pm on Wednesday at Sukhumvit Hospital.
Funeral prayers will be held at Bangkok’s Wat That Thong’s 27th pavilion until Sunday when the cremation rite will be held.
Paitoon, who studied mime in 1980 with Slovakian mime actor and director Milan Sladek, in 1984 found Konnakhao Mime, which was later developed into the Konnakhao Mime Academy in 2004 to conduct classes and workshops in the unique performance art. Some of his students became nationally recognised, including the Babymime Group and Yano Mime.
Konnakhao Mime’s first show Erotic Mime (1986), which was the Asia’s first mime performance portraying a story about sex and gender inequality, led to Paitoon receiving the Goethe Institute scholarship in 1987, which enabled him to visit a mime festival in Germany for one month.
He also was the founder of the “Mime for Deaf Children” project to teach the art to deaf children, which was sponsored by the Thai Health Promotion Foundation.
Paitoon initiated the Kon Rak Mime Festival in 2016 to bring pantomime performances by international artists to Thai audiences and organised workshops for people to seeking to improve their performances.
“Klong Hansa”, or “Fun Box”, directed by Paitoon was presented during the Bangkok Theatre Festival 2017.
Paitoon was born on July 31, 1962 in Nakhon Si Thammarat. He moved often as a child and studied at Nakhon Si Thammarat’s Benjamarachuthit School, Chiang Mai’s Wattanothai Payap School, Bangkok’s Wat That Thong School and Nakhon Si Thammarat’s Suwansri School, the last of which is now defunct.
His first turning point towards the art of pantomime occurred while he was studying in Wattanothai Payap. Studying evening classes to catch up with peers, Paitoon had free time during day to work at the Chiang Mai Art Centre for Children.
Centre founder Thep Sirisopa also enlisted him to help perform puppet shows, giving him a chance to see pantomime performances by Chonprakhan “Kru Chang” Janthareuang, from whom he learned about the art form.
He continued to develop his craft with various groups, including the Doung Pratheep Foundation, the Education for Development Foundation and the Makhampom theatre group until he had the chance to learn from Sladek.