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  1. #1
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    New Thai Theatre

    Feast for the eyes
    Unique state-of-the-art theatre showcases Thailand's rich cultural heritage
    With an elephant and a large number of performers, Act 1 of Siam Niramit takes the audience back in time to the ancient Kingdom of Lanna. Theatres and playhouses aren't the only places to find spectacular performances these days. With malls, restaurants and even furniture stores offering attractions, it's hard to know where the theatrical fantasy ends and reality begins. Nowadays, the best theatres in the world use a lot of razzle and dazzle to immerse guests in their universes. From the creators of Dream World, one of Thailand's most popular amusement parks, comes the latest magical twist with the emergence of Siam Niramit, the 1.5-billion-baht cultural-themed entertainment complex that promises to be the ultimate in night-time entertainment in Bangkok.

    Inspired by Thailand's rich heritage, Siam Niramit is located on a 24-rai prime plot of land in the heart of Bangkok, opposite the Thailand Cultural Centre. Within its grounds are the gigantic Ratchada Grand Theatre, model villages from the four regions of the kingdom, and three restaurants with seating for up to 800 guests.

    Both Thai and foreign audiences can enjoy highlights of Thailand's history and culture during the 80-minute show. "The two major reasons behind the creation of Siam Niramit are to preserve Thai culture and to promote tourism," said Pannin Kitiparaporn, Siam Niramit's managing director.

    "Thailand is one of the preeminent international tourist destinations in Asia and Bangkok's reputation as one of the world's most attractive and vibrant cities and its plans to expand its tourism make it the perfect location for a theatre show destination. "Our decision to build Siam Niramit has demonstrated our confidence in the continued growth and development of Thailand as a regional and international tourist destination. Siam Niramit is a new cultural attraction that will add a classy touch of glamour to Thailand as a more desired travel destination."

    According to Pannin, the opening of Siam Niramit, a modern portrayal of Thailand's rich artistic and cultural heritage, marks an important milestone for Thailand's economic and tourism development since it will provide a strong boost not only to the tourism industry but many tourism-related businesses as well. Pannin estimated that the theatre alone will bring to Thailand at least one million visitors after a year's operation. The spectacular cultural performance, which takes place at the Ratchada Grand every evening at 8pm, will showcase a riveting 80-minute theatrical show that incorporates state-of-the-art light and sound technology and special effects. The show will bring to life varied characters and stories in a whole new form of entertainment for Thailand.


    The performances combining culture and illusion feature three spell-binding stories which are divided into three acts - Journey Back to History, Journey Beyond Imagination: The Three Realms and Journey Through Joyous Festivals. Journey Back to History reveals the story of the religious faith of Lanna, the heritage of the Khmer civilisation; Journey Beyond Imagination: The Three Realms depicts the mysterious legend of Himmapan forest, a boundary between the human world and the heavens and a home to all manner of mystical creatures; and Journey Through Joyous Festivals involves a wide variety of merit-making festivals unique to Thai culture.

    All the acts incorporate Thai culture with magical illusions plus aerial performances, acrobatics, pyrotechnics, special effects and stunts. The special effects and exquisite surroundings will enhance the beauty of Thailand's myths, mysteries and magic. It took the creative team more than five years to come up with the complete design to fit in with the concept. Within this period, the building of the gigantic theatre and the whole Siam Niramit complex were also completed.

    The theatrical productions were created by a team of experts and professionals including producer Amphol Suthiphein; co-producer and technical director Krissara Warissaraphuricha; music composer Kaiwan Kulavadhanothai; director Dangkamon Na-pombejra, and set/costume designer Chatvichai Promadhattavedi. "To create a show of this magnitude, we had to do a lot of research," said producer Amphol Suthiphein. "What we have achieved is an innovation in the performing arts. It can be said that we are the pioneers in the application of new technologies to the process of creating live theatre."

    The Ratchda Grand Theatre at Siam Niramit is also unequal to any playhouses in this region or maybe in the world. "It is gigantic, very, very big. The size of the stage alone is 65 by 40 by 12 metres which takes up more than half of the entire auditorium space - or one-third of Wembly stadium in London," said Amphol. "The height is equivalent to a four-storey building, higher than any other theatre in the world," said the producer. "The stage proscenium is also one of the largest in the world to offer maximum exposure for the performance. All technical peripherals have to be custom-ordered."

    "The stage is the toughest production part," said co-producer and technical director Krissara Warissaraphuricha, "The staff needs special skills to manage and maintain over 100 different and unique sets. This is because we want the audience to see the beautiful and meaningful story that we've created. The challenges of the creative process are sometimes very demanding but at the same time very rewarding." To create the illusion of depth and dimension, there are some 117 rails to hang the sets, all of which can be changed very rapidly. The cost of the sets alone is 20 million baht, including those that appear on stage for a mere 30 seconds.

    One example is the 30-million-baht spiral lift which will enable the scene of heaven to slowly appear on stage as if by magic. The spiral lift is able to raise sets of up to 17,550 kilos in weight by seven metres in width in less than a minute. This will enable the setting to change from Phra That Phanom to Prasat Phanom Rung instantaneously. Other equally important production aspects are sets and costumes. There are more than 500 costumes for the 150 cast members, all of which have been designed to match this world-class production. Altogether, with another 150 people backstage, the show needs a team of 300 to make it happen.

    "We have learned a lot over the years by producing signature original programmes for the first three acts of the performance," said Chatvichai Promadhattavedi, who designed the sets and costumes. "Each and every crew member is excited to apply his skills to the new style of the theatrical industry, specifically an innovative one like Siam Niramit." On the musical side, composer Kaiwan Kulavadhanothai said, "We need to create mood and add attractiveness to the show, so we had to research Thai and Western music. There are two types of soundtracks for the show - the original and the newly-composed songs. The originals include Thai folk songs and the traditional songs used for the four regional tones.

    "Making these soundtracks is a reunion of the premier artists of Thailand such as khru Chang Klaiseetong, the 1995 National Artist in Performing Arts, and khru Kwanjit Sriprajun, the 1996 National Artist in Performing Arts," he added. "Plus the newly-composed music is unique. For example, Hell is partly represented by hard rock. The computerised sound is synthesised to represent excitement or the scream of ghosts." "The performers must dedicate themselves to the rehearsals in order to perform as naturally as possible while presenting each theme to the audience," said Dangkamon Na-pombejra, the show's director. "We put a strong emphasis on acting and trained them to convey the beautiful, elegant and lively characteristics of common people."

    With this kind of performance not found anywhere else in the world, maybe it's no longer necessary to describe Bangkok to any of the travellers who think that we can only be a cabaret show paradise. "Siam Niramit"opens its doors to the public today. It is located on Tiam Ruammit Road, near the Thailand Cultural Centre. The 80-minute Siam Niramit show takes place daily at 8pm at Ratchada Grand Theatre.


    Bangkok Post.

  2. #2
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    Thanks for this article iGotNoTime, this place is right near my apartment so I will try and go and see it soon and let you guys know what it's like. From the article, it looks like it should be pretty interesting.

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