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Arts - Entertainment & It

Wake Up and Dream

Interact Theater Company from the USA and Rajanagarinda Institute for Child Development (RICD) in Chiang Mai create an original play comprising actors with and without disabilities from the United States and Thailand in Wake Up and Dream at CMU Art Museum on March 2 and 3.

The third annual theatrical collaboration between Interact Theater Company and RICD is a series of songs, stories, comedy and film that explore the value of having dreams and daring to reach beyond our perceived limitations. Interact Theater professionals along with Thai performers with and without disabilities, are spending two months creating this musical celebration and performance about the human capacity to reach beyond expectations. Songs and stories will be presented along with be filmed interviews of parents, children, and team leaders who have been a part of this creative process and have witnessed the changes taking place in all who participate.Interact brings to the collaboration its winning philosophy of radical inclusion; mixing professional performers and actors with a wide range of disabilities, ages and ethnic back grounds in the creative and performing experience. Added to the collaboration by professional staff of RICD and all of the wonderful performers there, is the Thai sense of Sanook. Through this collaboration, our goal is to deliver toour audience a meaningful, joyful theatrical experience.

"Wake up and Dream" is more than a show: it's an experience that will change the way the audience looks and feels about the capabilities of all people, especially those with disabilities.

Interact Theater Company has been helping people to wake up to the full potential of people with disabilities for more than 20 years. For the past 8 years, they have been traveling around the world performing and helping other organizations create a new model of programming.  Interact’s Artistic Director and Founder, Jeanne Calvit says, "People with disabilities the world over are often seen as flawed, infirm or ‘less than’. We turn that paradigm on its head and shine a light on their gifts and talents. By doing this we change perceptions and it has a wonderful ripple effect that has a positive impact on families, caregivers and professionals that work with our artists. Being involved in Theater and Art in collaboration with others has a healing and therapeutic effect on not only the participants but the whole community."

Wake Up and Dream will show on 7 pm Friday, March 2, and 2 pm and 7 pm on Saturday, March 3 at CMU Art Museum Theater (Corner of Suthep Road and Nimmanhaemin Road). Tickets are available at the door for 200 baht.

Contemporary dance performance takes a hard look at the Lanna Dream

K. Waewdao’s performance was a scathing critique at the idealized vision many Thais have of the North.

By Shana Kongmun

The FIAO - Chiang Mai show, a contemporary Lanna Dance performance saw the Norsan Group perform the modern dance performance Muan and the ironic and funny critique of the commercialization of Northern culture in the performance titled Lanna Dream by Waewdao Srisook.

The first part of the performance was the modern dance and performance by the Norsan Group which involved unique painting as part of the performance as well as singing, instrumental music and dance. The gracefulness of the dancers made the entire performance a pleasure to watch.

The Norsan Group put on a graceful and beautiful dance performance.

K. Waewdao then took the stage with her set of performers and her quick change performance from Lanna dancer to hill tribes, to umbrella dance, to strip down to nearly nothing and then be re-dressed in the traditional Lanna costume was a scathing critique of the commercialization of Northern culture. The “culture commodity” that has been created to suit not only foreigners’ visions of the “Lanna Dream” but also those of other Thai people who view the northerners with some kind of idealized and falsified vision. A video of an interview with Ajarn Vithi Phanichphan drove this issue home. Dr. Vithi is a well known scholar of Northern culture and one who has often had controversial runins with others as he points out that the whole idea of a “Lanna culture” was created to sell the North.

The performances by the Norsan Group and K. Waewdao will be repeated for the benefit of those in Bangkok this weekend, on the 25th and 26th at the Nakarin Theatre on Sirnagarindra Rd. Perhaps those who attend will take away a different vision of the North and a more realistic one.

K. Nok and her staff organized the event and encourage those in Bangkok or with friends in Bangkok to see the performances scheduled for Saturday the 25th of February and Sunday the 26th of February. [email protected]

The Mahler Cycle in Chiang Mai – A First for Thailand!

Dr. Howard Graves introduces one of the screenings in his apartment.

Jai Pee

On May 18th 1911 the great composer Gustav Mahler died of a rare blood disease in the Löw’s Sanitarium in Vienna; on May 18th 2011 here in Chiang Mai a cycle of all Mahler’s great works was launched at the apartment of Dr Howard C Graves, the inspiration behind the scheme. This wonderful and impressive cycle of all Mahler’s great symphonies and many of his songs and related works, all shown on DVD, was the first of its kind in Thailand – coming to an end with a celebratory garden party in the home of ardent Mahler enthusiast Wan Lee and his charming wife Pandita in Mae Rim in January. This was a totally separate event from the live Mahler Cycle being presented by Maestro Somtow and the Siam Philharmonic over a five year period in Bangkok. However, the cycle here acted as a great support for the live version in Bangkok and was very well attended despite all sorts of difficulties.

JP presents Dr. Howard Graves with a poster of the Mahler cycle to commemorate this first time event in Chiang Mai.

Dr Howard had originally planned to use a large screening room but this came to nothing after long discussions and many delays. In the interim, Dr Howard had asked Jean-Pierre (JP), Chiang Mai’s resident musicologist to support the screenings with a series of lectures. JP responded affirmatively and launched the whole series with a seminar outlinijng the life and times of Mahler, plus the influences – social, political and musical – on his work as a composer. The cycle featured all the symphonies conducted by legendary Mahler conductor Leonard Bernstein, mostly with the celebrated Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra but also featuring the London Symphony Orchestra and the Israeli Philharmonic. Supporting materials ranged from a late 1960’s popular song by the Strawbs through to the influential music of composers such as Berlioz and Bruckner and included several of Mahler’s songs as well as two of his song cycles and most importantly a rare recording of the composer himself playing a piano version of the final movement of his fourth symphony. Originally intended to be a fortnightly cycle, the screenings were subject to all sorts of amendments and re-scheduling to avoid the September flood waters and the off-stage fireworks at Loy Kratong in November as well as to take account of illness. But the huge undertaking moved forward like a giant wave of sound engulfing over 60 people who attended at least once and in some cases every single event. The lectures were informative and enlightening with sets of notes to guide the listener through the complexities of the works almost all of which last nearly an hour and a half.

All of this has now been captured in a book as a record in written form supplemented by photographs – which will be published shortly and available through JP or Dr Howard. The whole event was a huge success and gave music lovers in Chiang Mai a rare opportunity to work their way through the compositions of this significant composer, who after many years of neglect, is now considered to be one of the giants of classical music. It was heartening to see many nationalities represented at the screenings – people from North America, Europe, Australia, Thailand, China, Japan and Korea – a truly multinational event. Most importantly this significant episode is just the beginning – Dr Howard and JP are now planning a Beethoven Cycle and are casting their nets even wider to include in the future similar cycles of works by Wagner, Dvorak and Brahms.

Nothing quite like this has happened before in Thailand except for the marathon live performances of all of Fauré’s Nocturnes and Barcarolles presented by Dr Bennett Lerner just a couple of years ago – another first for the city. Despite the lack of a proper concert or recital hall, music survives in Chiang Mai due to the persistence and imagination of people such as Dr Howard and Dr Bennett and how grateful we all are for their efforts to sustain the musical life here.

“Imagination is better than Knowledge”

A New Exhibition at Gallery116

Baan Chiang Civilisation right and left, Woman I. Both works by artist Wiroon Tungcharoen

Jai Pee

Gallery 116 on Charoen Muang Road opened its doors last night to a startlingly contrasting exhibition of paintings by three Thai artists – Wiroon Tungcharoen, Aswin Lachitawong and Jinda Netsookam. As the visitor enters the main gallery, the second painting on the right by Wiroon, entitled Heritage III immediately shouts that message ‘Imagination is better than knowledge’ – Wiroon’s own words from the opening ceremony. His paintings, most of which are hung in the second room of the gallery show a vivid use of imagination and of texture and colour combined to take the visitor into a new world where the old safe boundaries of landscapes and flowers have been rent asunder! Wiroon’s paintings have been strongly influenced by his study abroad – in the USA particularly, at the American University in Washington DC and Illinois State University where he was a student after completing his undergraduate studies in Bangkok. This is not to say that landscapes and flowers are in any way inferior. In fact, the large landscapes and beautifully crafted flowers by Jinda and Aswin are captivating – the colours are strong and attractive, showing a deep love and respect for not just nature itself but for the inherent beauty of their native Thailand, its culture and traditions. These large canvasses are very much in the Thai tradition – enchanting, colourful and painted by artists with clear vision and a keen eye for detail. They would enhance any room in the home but a large wall would be needed to house most of them!

In great contrast Wiroon has stepped beyond the confines of the Thai traditions – his brush strokes are bold and assertive, a style quite unique and which he began to develop prior to leaving Thailand for the USA. His use of yellows and orange with tints of green is captivating, no more so in his paintings entitled Baan Chiang Civilisation and Woman I. Wiroon explained that he felt the need to be totally free of any constraints and his medium-sized canvases show just that – liberated ideas using imagination, great skill and devoted craftsmanship. Wiroon has just moved to Chiang Mai where we are delighted to welcome him, his wife and his undoubted skills as a distinctive and individual artist.

The owner of the gallery, Mrs Wanthip Nimmenhaeminda has produced a helpful guide for visitors in Thai only although naturally the illustrations speak for themselves! The exhibition most aptly called Open Mind should not be missed. It is open until March 13th and Gallery 116 is located about 300 metres from the Nawarat Bridge, open from 10.00am until 5.30pm each day except Mondays when the Gallery is closed. Telephone for enquiries: 053 302 111.

Classical concert from top class musicians

Chiang Mai Governor ML Panadda Diskul joins H.E. Admiral ML Usni Pramoj, musicians Tasana Nagavajaram Siripon Tiptan and Kittikhun Sodprasert, Payap President. Rev. Dr. Pradit Takerngrangsarit, Dr. Therdchai Jivacate of the Prosthesis Foundation and Four Seasons General Manager Titiya Chooto at the conclusion of the performance at Payap’s Saisuree Hall.

By Shana Kongmun

Once again H.E. Admiral ML Usni Pramoj graced the stage with his viola, performing in a quartet with violinists Tasana Nagavajara and Siripon Tiptan and Kittikhun Sodprasert on cello to benefit the Prosthesis Foundation of HRH the Princess Mother.

The Prosthesis Foundation had both Thai and English speaking people at the event, with prosthesis on display to explain their work. And what many consider to be an urban myth was confirmed as true. You can mail your can tops to the Foundation to be made into parts for the prosthesis. Akiyo Kuniyoshi of the Foundation explained that they do take cans as well but they must be washed clean. The Prosthesis Foundation makes prosthetic limbs for people injured in accidents in rural areas as well as those injured by landmines along the borders.

The Prosthesis Foundation was registered in 1992 when the Foundation was set up by HRH the Princess Mother and HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana. Dr. Therdchai Jivacate was able to make artificial legs that lighter, more comfortable and 10 less expensive than imported ones. Since then they have helped almost 16,000 people regain their lives with the use of artificial limbs. A donation of only 1,000 Baht can provide a below the knee leg. The Prosthesis Foundation’s Chiang Mai office is at 199 M 4, Donkaew, Mae Rim, Chiang Mai, 50180. Donation information can be found on their website:

Every year, H.E. Admiral ML Usni Pramoj donates his skills and time to perform in Chiang Mai to raise funds for various charity efforts. This year, instead of the show being held at the Four Seasons Resort in Mae Rim, the Four Seasons worked together with Payap University to bring the show to a larger audience. They were not disappointed, the nearly sold out crowd sat enthralled by the beauty of the performance of these accomplished musicians.

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Wake Up and Dream

Contemporary dance performance takes a hard look at the Lanna Dream

The Mahler Cycle in Chiang Mai – A First for Thailand!

“Imagination is better than Knowledge”

Classical concert from top class musicians