It started life as an illustrated book, then was later developed into a comic, play and animation. Finally His Majesty the King’s much-loved “Phra Mahachanok”, or “The Story of Mahajanaka”, will be depicted again as a new play to pay a final tribute and farewell to the former monarch at the Royal Cremation on October 26.
Presented by the Culture Ministry, more than 100 artists and 50 crew members will stage the seven-act play based on “The Story of Mahajanaka” based on a religious story of a past life of the Lord Buddha.
The play was first staged in 1997, when the late National Artist Seri Wongnaitham then got permission from the King to adapt the illustrated book into a traditional Thai play.
Directed by drama expert Wantanee Wangmuang, the new play will showcase beautiful dances along with hi-tech stage design by the Ovation Studio, which will also set the stage for a Khon performance at the same event.
Launched in 1996, His Majesty brought a modern twist into his “Mahajanaka”, which is based on a story from the Tripitaka. It recounts the incarnation of the Buddha as King Mahajanaka, who ruled the kingdom of Mithila, before being born again as Siddhartha.
As King Mahajanaka, he valiantly faces challenges and troubles of every kind – from sinking ships to bloody succession feuds – and survives them all through his remarkable perseverance.
“The late King Bhumibol cleverly penned this masterpiece with hidden Buddhist teachings including perseverance, self-sacrifice and compassion,” said Wantanee.
“While the core of the story emphasises perseverance, His Majesty also portrays sufficiency development and the educational system to his people via his literature creation,” said actor Somdet Phuna, who portrays King Mahajanaka.