By Pawit Mahasarinand
Four actors share their personal dioramas in a new Thai production
Stage designer, actor and director Surachai Petsangrot must have been taking artistic methamphetamine or perhaps he just has a highly inspirational muse. His interdisciplinary work and collaboration with many others “Lone Man and the Flowers” took up all floors of Thong Lor Art Space in late February, and now his new work “Home”, or in Thai “Bam sam wan song khuen”, is running a few hundred metres down Soi Thonglor at the B-Floor Room.
Entering the small studio one person at a time, we walked past the four performers – namely Sasapin Siriwanij, Chanida Panyaneramitdi, Narit Pachoei and Jirakit Sunthornlapyos – at the centre table on which sat cardboard box models of houses belonging to each of them. Even glancing at each model, it was possible to see the amazing detail with the miniatures and accessories in each providing the audience with knowledge about each performer’s characteristics.
Once all audience members were seated on the stand at one end of the room, all four performers went back to their corners, each of which were decorated with props – probably their own – which revealed more about who they are.
For example, young actress Chanida’s corner was filled with cuddly dolls.
For the next 100 minutes, we heard their stories – a blend of truth and drama – through monologues and dialogues delivered both from their small corners and at the centre table. These were heartfelt at times and often comical, especially when they seemed to be talking about the same topic though in fact they were not.
While the structure of the performance is set, each evening differs as the topics of their monologues and dialogues change, a good thing as I’m sure some audience members will go to see the piece more than once. The work has been described as “short films performed live” and that’s a fitting definition.
Each segment is complete in itself and it was easy to draw connections between them as well with parallels to our lives. Also noteworthy was how they listened and responded to one another. And despite their various theatre backgrounds and experiences, they formed one strong ensemble in which no one was, or tried to be, more dominant than the rest. This was most evident in the scene when they all brought their model houses back to the table, lining them up next to one another and performing a scene as if they were neighbours.
This was followed another scene in which, one by one, they were visited by another character, invisible on stage. A performer would knock at the table and the audience could see that there was a doorknob and the table was actually a door lying horizontally on two boxes. The pace of the performance never changed – there was no conflict, climax or turning point – but such is life, and not theatre in the traditional sense.
Between scenes, narration – probably Surachai’s notes, statement or introduction – was projected onto the space between the two boxes, like punctuation marks or chapter breaks. Perhaps he didn’t want us to read them completely, as the flash was too brief and audience members in the side section had a restricted view.
Like “Lone Man”, Surachai has given artistic freedom to and as a result gained a lot from his collaborators, including his assistant director, Art de Ground’s Kwin Bhichitkul. And when the artist doesn’t want to preach a strong message but instead leave room and space for our appreciation and interpretation, we gain a lot from his work too.
- “Home” will be performed once more at 8 tonight in the B-Floor Room at the Pridi Banomyong Institute, between Thonglor sois 1 and 3 . It’s in Thai – no English.
- Tickets are Bt450 (Bt350 for students and Bt300 for those who’ve already watched it).
- For details call (089) 130 6305.