Maya lives up to its motto “Theatre is the armament of wisdom”
Maya: The Art and Cultural Institute for Development, one of Thailand’s leading and longer-standing theatre companies, moved into its new home near Chatuchak Weekend Market a few years ago and I’m ashamed to admit that I never found the time to visit. Unaccountable excuses include the fact that I don’t have children and the notoriously bad weekend traffic in that area that’s made a whole lot worse by constant and ongoing construction.
That situation was remedied two Sundays ago while the kids were enjoying “Disney on Ice” and their dads the motor show. Finding Mayarith Theatre wasn’t difficult either – there’s even a play poster at the parking lot entrance and in the elevators. Despite the busy traffic in the area mid-afternoon, I was able to reach just 40 minutes after watching another play in the Thong Lor area. There’s a bus stop right in front of the building and both MRT and BTS stations are in easy walking distance.
“Mungman Yai Phukhao” (“Let’s Move the Mountains”) extrapolates on a Taoist story about one man’s “foolish” plan to move two peaks. Photo courtesy of Maya
And Maya’s latest work “Mungman yai phukhao” (“Let’s Move the Mountains”), like most of their works in fact, is not just for kids.
Maya’s artistic director Santi Chitrachinda has masterfully adapted a Taoist tale about an uncle who wanted to move two mountains and was deemed stupid by his peers, and seamlessly linked it to three other tales, all of them foreign. Santi’s aim, and he’s indeed achieved it, is to teach us, children and adults alike, that it’s not impossible to move the three mountains – of greed, anger and infatuation – from our minds.
The brief prologue was followed by three tales, of different lengths, namely “The Pardoner’s Tale”, from “The Canterbury’s Tales”; “Panchatantra: The Loyal Mongoose” from “The Arabian Nights”; and the Brothers Grimm’s “The Fisherman and His Wife”, though the latter was longer than necessary. And while the play set out to teach us an important lesson, his staging, thanks in part to the inclusion of songs performed live by the actors and accompanied by a piano, made sure that we didn’t feel we’re were at the receiving end of a sermon. That’s partly because none of us was really familiar with any of the four tales.
The stage remained almost bare throughout with the four actors changing costumes and bringing in hand props in accordance with the origin of the story they were telling. Performing with young audiences in mind, they made sure their diction and facial expressions were clear, although the overall pace could have also been a little swifter. Anyhow, they had the full attention of the young and not-so-young audience members, and after the curtain call, most of us wanted to take a photo with them to remind ourselves of this quality family time.
Maya plans to stage about four productions a year at Mayarith, and that’s indeed a piece of fabulous news for any theatre audience.
– “Let’s Move the Mountains” continues this Saturday and Sunday and April 29 and 30, 1pm and 4:30pm, at Mayarith Theatre, on 3rd floor of JJ Outlet (opposite JJ Mall), Kamphaengphet 2 Road.
– It’s in Thai with no English surtitles.
– Tickets are Bt 350, at (094) 415 0005. Visit Facebook.com/MayarithTheatre.