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Publication Date : 22-06-2012
Theatre groups 4Daruma and Kabuki-la - known for their original plays about life and relationship in modern Thailand - are collaborating for the first time, presenting "Rak Tidtor" next month.
Napak Tricharoendej, one of the four women who founded 4Daruma - university graduates focused respectively on acting, directing, playwriting and design - says one of the members is studying acting in the US and another is busy with other work, "so it's a good time to explore the collaboration option".
"Designer Suwalee Wichaiwuttikun and I pitched the collaboration idea to [Kabuki-la's playwright, actor and director] Shogo [Tanikawa], asking him what's play he'd like to put on right now."
Shogo didn't hesitate. Based on a true story of a gay Thai man who's HIV-positive, he'd written "Ai No Kakera" and had been wanting to stage it for a while.
"That's Japanese for 'fragments of love'," says Napak, who's directing the play.
Napak suggested Shogo change the nationality of the central character to a middle-aged Japanese man named Joe so that [Kabuki-la's actor] Futoshi Hashimoto can portray him and to make the message stronger.
The other three characters are a Thai woman Louis who's taking care of Joe (played by TV star Sarocha Watidtapan), another Japanese man Noboru (Shogo) who's a friend of Joe's and a Thai bar girl Yuki (theatre-major student Natthanan Phoosakul in her professional debut) who's in love with Noboru.
"Given their different acting experiences, their acting styles differ considerably and so I needed some time to help them adjust, at least to a certain extent," says Napak.
The story may sound like a love quadrangle, but Napak says that some of these relationships, "go beyond friendship and are also more than love. Like the title suggests, they connect with and attach to one another, filling the gaps that may be there.
"Although the central character is gay, I wouldn't call this a gay play—the focus is not on his homosexuality. It's applicable to anyone who shares this common need to find someone to fulfil him or herself - we can't live alone. And while that person is yearning for someone, someone may be yearning for him at the same time."
Napak was trained as a playwright and her senior project work "Dek Piset" was produced on the professional stage prior to last year's "Phuying Khang Khang", with both garnering positive reviews.
She notes that Shogo's writing and the play itself differ greatly from those written by Thai playwrights. "It leaves a lot for the audience to interpret. Also, it focuses more on the environment rather than the conflict. In terms of dialogue, it's obvious that Japanese people don't like to be too straightforward."
Given the different nationalities of the characters, the dialogue is in Japanese, Thai and English, with surtitles provided in all three languages.
"Shogo originally wrote it all in Japanese and had a student translate it into Thai, and so in the rehearsals he and I often put our heads together and adjusted words that might not have been perfectly translated."
Fellow 4Daruma member Suwalee designs the set and costumes and takes photos — and both she and Napak are helping with the production administration too.