FVCC One of Montana’s Two U.S. Tour Stops
Next month, Flathead Valley residents will have the rare opportunity to enjoy a free performance by Thailand’s Moradokmai Theatre Community. Founder Chang Janaprakal Chandruang, a Flathead Valley Community College alumnus, and members of the theatre ensemble will bring their version of “Ramakien” to the Flathead Valley Community College Theatre stage December 2. FVCC will be one of two stops in Montana for the community’s 2013 U.S. tour.
“Ramakien” will feature a team of 11 performers showcasing excerpts from the great work of Thai literature. It tells the story of Phra Ram (Lord Rama), whose wife Sita is abducted to Lanka by the evil Thosakan. Phra Ram and his allies are aided by the monkey-god Hanuman to battle Thosakan and retrieve Sita. The play is depicted in all genres of Thai arts including poetry, literature, painting, dance, theatre, music and puppetry.
The Moradokmai ensemble performs in the style of contemporary theatre, yet retains elements from Thai classical theatre. Synthesis of diverse international styles is a strong characteristic of Thai performing arts. Today, the ensemble continues this tradition by drawing upon Thai classical dance theatre, western theatre, Thai pop music, dance and rock.
Chandruang, who also serves as the company’s artistic director, says this year’s tour will include performances all across the nation from California to Massachusetts, allowing the theatre community’s instructors and students the unique opportunity to explore the diversity of the United States.
“This project will be a great opportunity for young Thai people to explore life through theatre and culture and learn more about the American culture as well as share our cultural forms with young people in the United States,” said Chandruang.
Chandruang graduated from Flathead Valley Community College in 1975 with an Associate of Arts degree and transferred to The University of Montana to earn his theatre degree before returning to Thailand to begin his long career a theatre specialist and educator. He taught theater at Chulalongkorn University for 20 years before founding the Moradokmai Theatre Troupe in 1995, which was originally a theatre production company and later became the theatre education program that is remains today.
The Moradokmai Theatre Community, which means “new heritage,” is a tuition-free, volunteer-taught residential school where teens and young adults learn traditional performing arts including Thai music, dance and theatre, as well as contemporary innovations. The school provides a full educational curriculum while recreating the past when students absorbed the arts by living in the homes of teachers, learning collaboratively alongside fellow students. Senior teachers Chandruang and his wife Pobchan Leelasartsuntorn aim to integrate family, Buddhist temple and school in the context of modern Thailand.
Free and open to the public, the performance will take place at 2 p.m. in the FVCC Theatre inside the Arts and Technology Building on campus. A donation box will be available with proceeds supporting the Moradokmai Theatre Community student educational fund. For more information, contact FVCC Theatre Instructor Rich Haptonstall at 756-3962 or firstname.lastname@example.org.