Features

Actor Interview VOL.3

Thongchai Pimapunsri

Q. How did you like participating in the rehearsals?

This project concerns a play that is the first of its kind for me to participate in. The rehearsals were a fresh experience and a lot of fun.

In Thailand, when kissing and sexual behavior are presented on the stage, it is done in such a way that everyone can see the actors are pretending. But in this play, I sense the reality. At the same time, the novel on which this work is based has many raw descriptions of sexual activity. If they were put on the stage without any modification, the audience may very well feel as if they were watching an adult video. But with Okada’s direction, there is a suggestion that a different meaning is contained in sex as well. The feeling is different from mere pornography.

Q. Are you also involved in creative activities of your own?

I recently created a work with Thanaphon Accawatanyu, another one of the actors. However, I have not yet created a work entirely by myself. Ordinarily, I am engaged almost entirely in acting only.

Q. Tell us about your orientation in your activities as an actor and director.

At first, I took aim at works that taught the audience about social problems or made them think about questions. But lately, I think I would like to make works that are truer to myself and express things I can actually feel myself. In this sense, I am interested more in physical theater, which is acted by the body alone, than in theater with spoken lines.

Q. What playwright has most influenced you so far?

Teerawat Mulvilai, the joint artistic director of B-Floor Theatre, through his work “Red Tank.” The work is a solo performance by Teerawat using 12 red tanks. I was really struck by the scene in which the red tanks roll toward him and he runs out of the way.

I feel attracted to works of the type that goes beyond the experience of watching a play and extends to a sharing of the same experience by the audience and actors.

Tap-a-nan Tandulyawat

Q. The 10-day rehearsal has ended. Tell us what about the rehearsal made an impression on you.

It was a comment Okada made to me today when I was playing the part of Khao Sing, the main character. He said that it was not only the actor who was to play the role of Khao Sing, that the audience too had to become Khao Sing and to feel as if they were Khao Sing. I have never before received such an acting instruction before. I have always acted in the first person or been a third-person existence. That’s why Okada’s instructions seemed so fresh to me. How it can be accomplished is a vital question, and it will be interesting to see what happens.

Q. Apart from acting, are you involved in other creative activities?

Yes. I created two works after graduating from the university. One of them took the Sossai Award, which was instituted to honor Dr. Sossai, a professor in the department of literature at Chulalongkorn University. It was selected for the best actor award and best presentation award, too. I also presented a play at the Bangkok Theater Festival. I have written some scripts for TV movies, but I prefer acting work and would like to devote myself exclusively to activities as an actor.

Q. In what orientation would you like to develop your acting career?

First, I hope to get self-supporting, that is, to be able to support myself only on acting work. I have become pretty busy lately, but even if you graduate from the university with a degree in theater, it is really difficult for an actor who isn’t that good-looking to make it entirely on the strength of his own talents, without using any connections. My goal right now is to carve out a path for a career as an actor so I can make it on the basis of my own capabilities.

Besides acting myself, I have in mind the avenue of creating pieces myself and hiring talented younger actors and actresses for them, so I can introduce them to audiences inside and outside Thailand.

I also want to do more commercial work from now on. But at the same time, I likewise want to continue to get involved in interesting projects as I have so far.

Q. What did you think of the novel behind this work?

I found all of the characters engrossing. Khao Sing, the protagonist, is not the kind of heroic character most people prefer. He also has some selfish inclinations. The life I have led so far resembles his. In many respects, he seemed too much like me, and I therefore did not think he was “kawaii.”

As I read it, I felt like saying “Oh no, Khao Sing has done it again!”

Q. In what way are Khao Sing and you alike?

The career path I have followed as an artist. I studied to be an artist within the Thai system of education. And when I made a piece for my degree, I somehow ended up taking the direction that my advisor laid down. As it turned out, I didn’t stick with my own ideas and approach. I managed to graduate, but it was the same as Khao Sing. And after graduating, I wanted to make my own works, but my economic circumstances compelled to work writing scripts in order to make ends meet. This was the same, too. Then there was the resort to sex as a way of resolving the grind of the work and a depressing life, which was also the same as Khao Sing. Khao Sing does what he pleases and uses his status as an artist as an excuse for everything. That is exactly like me as well. I can really understand Khao Sing’s feelings.

The environment in which I was raised was different, and I don’t mean to say that my thinking is exactly the same as his. But I believe the fundamental causes of human pain and suffering are the same.

Kemmachat Sermsukchareonchai

Q. What is your impression of the project at the end of the sixth day of rehearsals?

In my opinion, the novel is a good one. The author relates his views articulately and straightforwardly, and his thought is deep. The process through which Okada is attempting to turn the depth of the novel into a theatrical work is intriguing to me. At the start of Chapter 1, for example, there is a scene in which one actor is sleeping and another actor is talking as the narrator. The words of the narration form an image of what is happening on the stage within the minds of the audience. This image takes a clearly defined shape.

I found Okada’s approach to direction, which gives full play to the audience’s powers of imagination, very interesting. The imagination of the audience can be controlled by building an elaborate set and using plenty of props on the stage. Okada does the opposite; he tries to stimulate the imagination with little in the way of sets and props.

Q. Is it true that works with a style of direction like Okada’s are not seen very much in Thailand?

I think many people have the same kind of idea, but among the works I have seen as a member of the audience, there have thus far not been any that I thought were made with a strong awareness of the power of “imagination.”

Participating in this project, I learned the process of creation at close range while hearing Okada’s explanations. I therefore got a good understanding of the importance of imagination. For example, take the scene in which a marble table is next to a pond. In a different work, this would be explained using words. Okada, on the other hand, finds a way to have this picture take shape inside the minds of the audience.

Q. After graduating from the engineering department of Chulalongkorn University, you launched activities as an actor and lighting designer at Democrazy Theatre Studio. What motivated you to jump into theater from the world of engineering?

I was in a band in my university days, and my initial encounter with theater came when I participated in a play at the invitation of students older than I in the mass communications department whose acquaintance I had made in the band. I studied lighting when I was in my fourth year at the university, and I got to know many people in theater while at Chulalongkorn. With these ties, I continued to get offers for theater-related work even after graduating.

Among the various companies, Democrazy staged more works that dealt with social problems. I joined Democrazy because I believed that to spend my life creating worthwhile works was more valuable to me than leading a steady life as a corporate employee.

Q. What impact do you hope this work will have on Thai society?

I think this work brings together the voices of certain types of people living in Thai society. First and foremost, I hope these voices reach the ears of many people. For this reason as well, I would like many people to see this work and get an understanding of these voices.

Waywiree Ittianunkul

Q. What did you think when you heard about the project vision and overall schedule?

I was a little worried about how far I could keep up with this project, but I am really looking forward to it nonetheless.

Q. What creative activities are you ordinarily engaged in?

I am an actress only. I do not create works myself.

Q. You appeared in a work by Thanaphon Accawatanyu, who is also appearing in “Pratthana – A Portrait of Possession” (in September 2017). What struck you as intriguing about this work?

In the first place, I was interested by Thanaphon himself, who wrote the script and was the co-director (along with Thongchai Pimapunsri, who also appears in “Pratthana – A Portrait in Possession”). That was the first time for me to take part in a production of his. His direction was completely different from that of other directors, and impressed me as a fresh approach. Above all, I think he has a completely original vision.

I am not sure how audiences will receive this work. That is also a point of interest.

Q. What made you want to become an actress?

I didn’t start out with the idea of becoming an actress, but I studied theater in the Theater Arts Department of Chulalongkorn University. I appeared in plays in the university and took off-campus acting jobs and participated in workshops. It was fun, and I gradually got the urge to continue.

Q. What features do you look for when selecting works to participate in?

Because I am not in the position to pick and choose works, I go to auditions or get referrals to projects that seem attractive to me. I might add that I am the kind of person who wants to try new things. When I get an offer, I almost never turn it down.

Q. What are your thoughts about the novel on which the work is based?

The story is weighty and the narrative is complex. It is not the kind of novel you can read in one sitting. But I found that aspect interesting, and liked the book. I could not empathize with almost any of the actions taken by the characters, but there were some things I could sympathize with, and they really resonated with me. I read the novel straight through until Chapter 5, but before reading the last chapter, I sort of naturally put the book down for quite a while. That experience also struck me as strange.

Q. What scene left the deepest impression on you?

The scene in which people die in 2010. Because it was an incident that I, too, experienced. In 2010, when it happened, I also had grown and become able to understand various things around me. I think the impression was especially strong for that reason.