Don’t run: Just “Take a Walk”


Pichet Klunchun’s new work was both immersive and site-responsive, without claiming so.

It’s already 2023 and that means we’ve been living with the pandemic for three years now. While theatre and dance performances returned last year, slowly and carefully as most took place in small studios. Large venues and commercial theatre producers didn’t want to take any risk and neither did we audiences who became more selective in our choices and careful in our spending, given the current economy. 

Immersive performances, or those that claim to be so, became popular and that’s probably because we all want new experiences, especially after spending much time in front of computer screens for two years and provided that we need to risk being in close proximity to those whose health records we don’t know of.

Don’t run: Just “Take a Walk”

Last month when I first came across a news release about “Take a Walk” on Pichet Klunchun Dance Company, I didn’t know what to expect. Someone even asked on its Facebook page whether the published start time—3:30pm on Fridays and 8am on Saturdays and Sundays—was a typo. It’s actually not. I was especially attracted to the fact that it’d take place at Thonburirom Park which, living 30 kilometers away, I’d heard of yet never visited. Just like the fact that many of us had (re)discovered many places in our neighborhoods, cities and country during the pandemic, my partner and I arrived in the neighborhood near King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT), and not far from the company’s studio and playhouse, a few hours early on the work’s first Friday afternoon to enjoy Khao Soi lunch at a local restaurant and coffee at a local café, both randomly suggested to us by internet algorithms. In other words, for this work that takes place at a specific place and time and in our presence, our new experience that we crave for started even before the work itself.

Don’t run: Just “Take a Walk”

At the meeting point, the park’s flagpole, we’re given instructions. e.g. that the whole experience would last about 90 minutes and we could take a break from and rejoin it at any time etc., and asked to sign our names on two company members’ T-shirts. Shortly afterwards, the internationally acclaimed dancer and choreographer showed up and started his, and our, “Take a Walk”, literally leading us on a walk around the shady and peaceful park. At the beginning, there were three of us— audiences, participants or walking partners, if you may—but a few dozens of steps in, a young woman in black attire decided to quit for an unknown reason. Two company members could be easily spotted with their computer notebooks showing either the time lapse or the distance we’d walked. Another two were following at a distance behind us, perhaps making sure that an overweight walker wouldn’t faint. 

Don’t run: Just “Take a Walk”

After two rounds, or a little over two kilometers, my partner and I decided to take turn for the remaining rounds. In fact, the fifth round included a break when the artist sat down under a tree and discussed this work with us. Among others, he revealed that this park was where he, and his company members, had been coming to do their morning exercises for the past 10 years, and for them walking was better for their health than running. He noted that the start time of “Take a Walk” was in consideration of the number of people in the park and the consequent available parking space. Also, music from a public radio channel was turned on from 4 to 5pm, which added to our experience. Pichet added that this was a chance for us taxpayers to monitor how our taxes had been spent on park maintenance. Seeing us off at the parking lot and seeing my physical condition at the time, the artist recommended a nearby seafood restaurant.

Having recently lost my mother from previously undiagnosed heart failure, I’ve paid more attention to my health and after “Take a Walk” manage to maintain my step count way above that of WHO standard for a few consecutive days. The whole experience also made me think of a junior friend who’s writing his PhD dissertation in London and known to his Thai peers there not only for his thoughtfulness but also 20,000-step routine which has been benefiting both his health and perspective on the city. A conceptual work in which each participant had a different experience, interpretation and takeaway from it, “Take a Walk” was both immersive and site-responsive—in this case, the artist carefully chose the site and the time and didn’t have any control over other factors, like the weather and others who’re walking and running in the park and their conversation we overheard. It’s very different from just sitting in a comfortable seat in a playhouse while enjoying a performance and understanding messages the artist wants to convey. After all, it’s perhaps the pandemic that makes us rethink and reconsider how we do things in life.

Don’t run: Just “Take a Walk”

After Bangkok, the Silpathorn Award laureate took this unique work to Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Nakhon Sawan. He said that he’d also stage it overseas when and where the company performs other works. 

Next Wednesday (January 11) at 7pm, Pichet will join Janaprakal “Khru Chang” Chandruang, National Artist in Performing Arts, in an English-language online forum titled “Blurring Boundaries Between Tradition and Modernity: Practices of Contemporary Thai Performing Artists”, organized by the Hong Kong national section of International Association of Theatre Critics (IATC). Free registration is open now at

From January 27 to 29, Pichet Klunchun Dance Company’s “Evolution” is at Thammasat Playhouse, on the Rangsit campus in Pathumthani province. Tickets are Bt 400 (Bt 200 for students) and free for Thammasat University students and staff, now available at

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Article and photos by Pawit Mahasarinand