“Taxi Radio"/ photo courtesy of Ben Kosolsak
“Taxi Radio"/ photo courtesy of Ben Kosolsak

Critics pick their favourites

Art February 04, 2019 01:00

By Pawit Mahasarinand
Special to The Nation

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Newcomers join veterans on the nominations list, but where are the awards for musicals?



THE FIRST FEW months of the year make up awards season and the Thailand centre of International Association of Theatre Critics’ (IATC) has stuck to this schedule, releasing the list of nominees for their IATC Thailand Dance and Theatre Awards 2018. Now in its seventh year, this remains the only recognition of contemporary dance and theatre works that premiere in Thailand by artists who call Thailand home, as opposed to the many awards events held annually for their film and TV counterparts.

“Taxi Radio”/photo courtesy of Ben Kosolsak

It’s noteworthy that for these 2018 awards, the critics have considered stage works over a span of slightly longer than a year –November 1, 2017 to December 31, 2018. That’s because their 2017 awards ceremony was at the conclusion of the Bangkok Theatre Festival 2017 in mid-November when the critics also honoured outstanding works seen during that festival.

Most noticeable from the list is the absence of two awards for musical theatre works, namely best musical and best musical book. And because they haven’t provided any explanation, we might have to attend the award ceremony two weeks from now to find out if this is because there were not enough musicals, that they were not good enough for the awards, or for none of these reasons. For her role in Dreambox’s “Son: A New Musical”, Teeranai Na Nongkai is however nominated for best performance by a female artist. 

Teeranai Na Nongkhai, right, in “Son_A New Musical”/photo courtesy of Dreambox

Unlike previous years when there were a few works with so many nominations that they became clear contenders, this year four productions share the highest number of nominations across three categories. They are B-Floor Theatre’s “Sawan Arcade”, the troupe’s collaboration with South Korea’s Theatre Momggol “Something Missing Vol. 3”, Splashing Theatre’s “Albatross” and Full Fat Theatre’s “Siam Supernatural Tour”.

Seen at the now-closed Democrazy Theatre Studio, the politically charged solo act “Sawan Arcade” is up for its art direction and performance by virtuosic physical theatre actress Ornanong Thaisriwong and for the year’s best movement-based performance.

“Sawan Arcade”/ photo courtesy of Teeraphan Ngowjeenanan

Part of Bangkok Art and Culture Centre’s (BACC) 6th Performative Art Festival in late 2017, B-Floor and Theatre Mommgol’s last of three works in a two-year collaboration saw the artistic directors of the two companies work hand-in-hand, after taking turns leading the direction in the previous two works. “Something Missing Vol. 3” is nominated for art direction and ensemble performance as well as best movement-based performance. Let’s see if B-Floor Theatre will continue its streak of winning IATC Thailand awards.

“Something Missing”/photo courtesy of Wipat Lertpureevong

While less prolific than the previous years, the young troupe Splashing Theatre, part of the future of contemporary Thai theatre, is back on the nomination list with another compelling drama “Albatross”, staged at Democrazy Theatre Studio, vying for best play, original script and direction. 

Last November, Nophand Boonyai and Full Fat Theatre took the audience on a unique theatregoing experience named “Siam Supernatural Tour” in the auditorium, on, behind and above the stage of the Siam Pic-Ganesha Centre of Performing Arts. The work is now competing for best play, original script and direction awards – the former two of which Nophand and Full Fat won last year for “[Co/Exist]”.

“Siam Supernatural Tour”/photo courtesy of Full Fat Theatre

Another contender for best play honour is the Thailand-Japan collaboration “Pratthana—A Portrait of Possession”, Japanese playwright and director Toshiki Okada’s stage adaptation of Silpathorn writer and SEA Write laureate Uthis Haemamool’s 2017 novel “Rang Khong Pratthana” (“Silhouette of Desire”), which premiered at Sodsai Pantoomkomol Centre for Dramatic Arts last August and was seen at Centre Pompidou in Paris last December. Their all-Thai ensemble cast members, comprising actors from many groups, are also up for best performance by an ensemble award. Full Fat’s “Taxi Radio” which premiered at Warehouse 30 and soon to be restaged at BACC, is another contender for best play in addition to script.

“Pratthana”/ photo courtesy of Tananop Kanjanawutisit

Also noteworthy is that two artists are being nominated for English-language play productions – Thai actress Siree Riewpaiboon for “Agnes of God” and British actor James Laver for “I Am My Own Wife”, both works by Peel the Limelight.

IATC-Thailand Centre will honour theatre professor Krissara Warissarapuricha with the Lifetime Achievement Award. For more than four decades, the prolific set and lighting designer has been teaching at many campuses, working in many dance and theatre productions with many directors and serving as an adviser to many playhouses. He also penned the first set and lighting design textbooks in the Thai language. 

Truly a man behind the limelight, most theatregoers may never have seen him, but most theatre artists know he starts work after their rehearsals late at night and when rehearsal resumes the following day, they have a nice set and lights.

Many awards to be handed out

 “IATC Thailand Dance and Theatre Awards 2018” take place in the multi-purpose room on the first floor of BACC (BTS: National Stadium, exit 3) on February 19 at 6pm. 

All dance and theatre artists and audiences are welcome: light snacks and refreshments will be provided. 

For more details and complete list of nominees, visit Facebook.com/IATC.Thailand.