Adaptation of Thai Traditional Play on the Thai Contemporary Stage: Finding an Identity for Modern Thai Theatre


In Thailand, traditional theatre and modern theatre are categorized separately from each other. While traditional theatre still performs in traditional ways in which dance and music are used as the main elements to tell a story, the term ‘modern theatre’ or Lakhon Wethi Samai Mai refers to theatre that performs in a western style.
The awareness of the dominance of the influence of western theatre on Thai theatre has encouraged some Thai artists to look for native Thai material in order to create an identity for modern Thai theatre. These artists claim that translated western plays are inaccessible to Thai audiences due to cultural differences, and so turn to their own cultural theatre roots. These artists share a similar interest in Thai traditional theatre; they believe that traditional dramatic literature could better communicate with Thai audiences than western plays. Therefore, they adapt traditional literature to be performed on the modern stage: in addition to a text, some traditional theatrical elements are also applied in their performances.
Thus, the purpose of this paper is to examine the different methods used by contemporary Thai artists to approach traditional literatures. By drawing on examples of adaptations of traditional Thai literature, I aim to show the potential of traditional literature to become an efficient source for the creation of a contemporary Thai script and how adaptation of traditional plays could not only be the initial step in creating an identity for the modern Thai theatre, but also a significant way to prompt Thai playwrights to discover an originality for their contemporary scripts that avoids a predominant reliance on the Western theatre.

Author Information
Sawita Diteeyont, Bangkok University, Thailand

Paper Information
Conference: ACAH2013
Stream: Arts & Humanities

This paper is part of the ACAH2013 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Diteeyont S. (2013) Adaptation of Thai Traditional Play on the Thai Contemporary Stage: Finding an Identity for Modern Thai Theatre ISSN: 2186-229X – The Asian Conference on Arts and Humanities 2013 – Official Conference Proceedings
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon