Vol. VIII No. 4 - Tuesday
January 27 - February 2, 2009



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


Art, Music & Culture • Entertainment • Lifestyles
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Chinese New Year

The highly successful ‘That Takes Ovaries’ returns with real-life stories

Romeo and Juliet – the musical

Time on your hands? Learn a new skill…

 

Chinese New Year

Elena Edwards
In 2009, January 26th is the first day of the First Moon of the Chinese lunar calendar—the day on which the most significant celebration in the entire Chinese year takes place, not only in Thailand, but in countries all over the world. Wherever the Chinese people have settled, no matter where in China their ancestors lived or how long ago, Chinese New Year will be celebrated, with all the traditional rituals and trimmings going back over thousands of years. The rituals themselves are too ancient to be traced back to their beginnings, and are also referred to as the ‘Spring Festival’.
Even though Chinese New Year celebrations generally only last for several days, the festival itself usually continues for over 2 weeks. It begins on the twenty-fourth day of the twelfth lunar month—the day, it is believed, when various gods ascend to heaven to pay their respects and report on household affairs to the Jade Emperor, the supreme Taoist deity. Traditionally, all households honour these gods by burning ritualistic paper money to provide for their travelling expenses between the home and the heavens. Another ritual involves smearing malt sugar on the lips of the Kitchen God, one of the travelling deities, to ensure that he either submits a favourable report to the Jade Emperor, or keeps silent! One of the most important religious rituals undertaken at this time is the honouring of the family’s ancestors, which unites the living family with those who have passed away.
Preparations for the festival begin about a month before the actual date, with presents and decorations being bought, much like our Western Christmas. Here, perhaps, the similarity ends, as the massive clean-up of Chinese homes is undertaken to sweep out any bad luck which might have accumulated during the year, not just to impress guests and relatives! Doors and windows are given a fresh coat of paint, usually red, and decorated with red paper decorated with the characters for happiness, wealth and longevity. Family members who no longer live at home make tremendous efforts to return each year to celebrate the festival with their parents and relatives. One of the most important rituals is the honouring of the family’s ancestors.
Even the ingredients for the festive meal served on New Year’s Eve have their ritual connections to ancient traditions. Dishes served will include seafood with dumplings, signifying good wishes, prawns for liveliness and happiness, dried oysters for all things good, raw fish salad for good luck and prosperity, and angel-hair seaweed, again for prosperity. Guests must not wear black or white to the dinner, as these colours are associated with mourning; red, on the other hand, is usually worn as the colour is known to ward off evil spirits. After dinner, family games are played, or, in these modern times, special New Year TV programmes are watched by all, with the celebrations closing at midnight with an extravagant firework display. Many families will then stay awake all night with the lights on, both to drive away bad spirits and, it is believed, to ensure the longevity of their parents. Religious ceremonies may also be held, after midnight, to welcome the God of the New Year into the house.
On the day itself, ancient custom dictates that married couples present the unmarried and children with money contained in special red envelopes. The family will then greet all relatives, friends and neighbours from door to door, wishing them good fortune and happiness in the New Year. The annual celebrations end with the Festival of Lanterns, which features a great deal of singing, dancing and a lantern show. The underlying message of the entire festival is still, after thousands of years, one of peace and happiness for family members and friends.

 

The highly successful ‘That Takes Ovaries’ returns with real-life stories

George Powell
‘That Takes Ovaries’ is a play, a best selling book and an open mike movement, all focusing on real-life stories from women and girls and the gutsy, courageous things they do. It is a dramatic performance depicting the lives of women who have shown courage in situations involving rape, sexual and police harassment, suicide, political tyranny and social stigmas from playful to political. “Ovaries” is full of multicultural, sassy, touching true tales of deeds.
The play was first performed highly successfully in Chiang Mai last March, with exclusive rights from its original author for its staging in Thailand. Directed by Dr. Laura Godtfredsen, and featuring a cast of 14 women, its impact was such that further performances were decided on. Almost a year later, the cast is back (including 2 additions) with a new show under the same title, which will include the real-life stories of events in the lives of courageous women and men from as far afield as Jordan, India and the West, as well as from Thailand itself. The play will deal with issues common to both sexes, and with the personal traumas, self-examination and development prompted by these both positive and negative life experiences.
‘That Takes Ovaries’ will take place on February 27 and 28, at the AUA Auditorium, beginning at 7.30. Donations of 350 baht are requested, which will include a glass of wine or a soft drink; all proceeds will go to Zonta’s fund for grandmas and their grandchildren orphaned by HIV/AIDS. Tickets will be available at the Girasole Restaurant, near Ratchadamnoen Road, and at any of the Rimping supermarkets.
For further information or reservations, please call Dr. Laura on 084-042-4069.


Romeo and Juliet – the musical

Two young actors speak about their roles

Geoff Puterbaugh
The Chiang Mai Mail caught up with two of the performers playing the lead roles of Romeo and Juliet in the Kad Theatre’s world premiere of the new Thai musical based on the Shakespeare classic. We talked with Romeo, portrayed by Wongchaikan Wongchan, ‘Ice,’ and Juliet, played by Nalinee Awut (Emile). What were their overall reactions to the production?
Emile said she was having fun, and is very glad to be a part of this show, is making new friends, and is learning a lot about the skills necessary in performing a musical drama. Ice stated that he was getting a lot of valuable experience in the rehearsals for the show, experience he has never had before. He’s also happy to work with his new friends and the rest of the cast, as it is helping to conquer his shyness, and he has learned a lot about the principles of live theatre. He is thrilled to have this rare opportunity, and considers he has learned a lot about the meanings behind some important concepts for actors.
When Emile was asked why she thought she was chosen for the leading role, she said that she wasn’t sure, but was very happy to have the chance. Ice added that there were three actors cast for each of the leads, all taking turns, and that the roles could all be played with different interpretations – an interesting aspect of the production, although he didn’t always agree with the other interpretations.
The third and fourth performances of Romeo and Juliet will take place at the Kad Theatre on January 31, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
We apologise for the printed date as February in the previous issue’s interview with the composer - details were inaccurate in the original texts sent by the organisers.


Time on your hands? Learn a new skill…

Elena Edwards
Many of us may now find we are free from our busy working lives in our home countries, and have time on our hands to pursue other activities and develop our talents in many new ways. One may be painting…not a priority in our former lives, but something we may have always wanted to try. ArtSpace on 7’s Laura Spector runs classes which are both educational and fun, and ease new and aspiring artists into the craft. She has been a professional artist for over 15 years, has been short-listed for the Sovereign Asian Art Award, and is acknowledged as having been in the list of the top 30 artists on Asia for two years in a row. Her own artwork is based in portraiture. Her workshops run for 5 days and encompass various disciplines, techniques and mediums, including portraiture and still life and using both oils and watercolours.
During her portrait workshop, students from beginning to intermediate levels will review various techniques and materials used to paint a portrait. Participants will work from a live model as well as creating a self-portrait. The workshop will take a glimpse at the history of portrait painting from the ancients to the masters, as well as covering contemporary artists who capture the human condition through the sitters they paint. Students will paint a portrait of a live model, creating an unspoken dialogue between the artist and the model. As they create, they will begin to determine how subjective that journey may be, how much they can see into the model and what they learn about themselves along the way. Students will also paint a self-portrait, a genre which gives artists the greatest freedom from external constraints. This is the best opportunity to make a favourable statement or the most penetrating revelation of character of which the artist is capable. Students will explore hands-on methods of how to interpret drawings and sketches in preparation for a painting, and will learn how to activate a composition onto a canvas, techniques of painting textures and light, basic colour theories, how to interpret the most from a live model in order to translate the person into paint. All students will leave with sketches, 2 paintings, and materials to continue painting on their own.
During Laura’s ‘Essentials of the Still Life’ workshop, students from beginning to intermediate levels will review various techniques and materials used to paint a still life. Participants will work from a variety of subjects to learn composition, colour palettes, reflective surfaces and how to paint fabric, light and texture. The workshops will look at the history of still life painting from the masters, modernists and contemporary artists utilizing the concept in their work today. All students will leave with sketches, 2 paintings and materials to continue painting on their own.
The 5 day workshops run from 2 p.m. to 5.30 p.m. each day, with materials provided which students take home when the workshop ends, including 2 canvases, paper and charcoal, a set of oil paints, tubes of acrylic paints, assorted paintbrushes, and palette knives, turpentine, etc. Easels and palettes are provided, with models scheduled and provided. Fees are 7,000 baht, payable in advance to reserve your easel and purchase the necessary materials. Space is limited to 5 students per course. For further information and session dates, please contact Laura on 085-622-6607, or email on [email protected]



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