KKU brings Thai Puppet Theater across the Me Kong to join Lao PDR in creating new-generation artists and cultural conservation

September 27-29, 2023 – The Art and Cultural Center of Khon Kaen University carried out the Isan Art Innovation Project through collaboration with the Me Kong puppetry network. The Center brought the “Modindaeng Art Innovation Puppet Theater” abroad and conducted a workshop with puppetry artists from various areas. The purpose was to enhance the University’s important mission, especially the nurturing of art and culture and academic services for the society, through expansion in the Me Kong Region in Lao PDR to promote puppet theater art among the young generation of the two countries.

Assoc. Prof. Niyom Wongpongkham, Ph.D., Vice President for Art, Culture, and Creative Economy explained that this project has been carried out for the first time. The “Modindaeng Art Innovation Puppet Theater” group traveled to Vientiane, People Democratic Republic of Laos. The group comprised lecturers and 3rd year students majoring in Performance Art, Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts and 1st year students majoring in Folk Music, Faculty of Education (Double-Degree Program). The objective was for learning and sharing of the differences in the characteristics of the puppets and the performance, each of which contains the specific identity. The outcome was acquisition of the art of performance of each group that would lead to development and building of a network of artists’ collaboration between puppetry experts of Lao PDR in Vientiane and the Modindaeng Art Innovation Puppet Theater. Moreover, the important goal will be collaboration in organizing activities for development of puppetry and other performances such as Mo Lam, Lakhon Wow (Stage Drama) and folk music of the two countries, extending the arts in this field to sustain into the future.”

The activity in this visit began by the Modindaeng Art Innovation Puppet Theater group and the Krabong Lao Puppet group presenting their works. The Modindaeng Art Innovation Puppet Theater performed two shows: Sinsai and Pra Suthon- Nang Mora, while the Krabong Lao Puppet group performed 4 shows: E Pok Sinsai Puppet Show – Kumpaka Abducting Nang Sumontha, a contemporary drama on conscience of garbage, Mong Puppet Drama and Boon Khaw Pradab Din Creative Puppet Show. The group from Thailand received warm welcome from the administrators and officers of the Department of Art and Culture, Ministry of News Report, Culture, and Tourism, at The National Theater of Lao PDR.

The afternoon session featured the design of puppet show together using the “Pu Jan” song of Khampoo Taweewan as the principle element in the story and show. The new puppet show is called, “The Dream of Pu Jan and Ya Jan”. The activity experimented on integration of puppets and puppetry artists from the two groups. It was the first time of collaboration between professional puppetry artists from Lao PDR and amateur puppetry artists from Khon Kaen University. The performance was designed and rehearsed in only 30 minutes, which well reflected professionalism and co-working.

On the second day, the two groups from the two countries performed at Fa Si Khram Somboon School. Audience comprised Kindergarten 3 students to secondary school students. The performance was well accepted by a lot of people. Next, the groups went to perform at the Art Education College, where the college also performed their “Fon Toei”, which was a kind of dance that demonstrated perfect Laotian dance identity. In the evening, the Modindaeng Art Innovation Puppet Theater group went to see the performance of Khaw Niaw Lao Puppet group at the Small Theater of French Association in Lao PDR.
On the last day, the Modindaeng Art Innovation Puppet Theater group, including Asst. Prof. Pachaya Akkaphram, Ajarn Athit Krajangsri, Ajarn Pongsatorn Yoddamern, Ph.D., from the Faculty of Fine and Applied Art, with the students majoring in Performance Art of the Faculty and the students majoring in Folk Music presented their performance at the Big Theater, National Art College and at the La Khon Lam Branch, Division of National Drama. After the shows, the groups from the two countries had the discussion to exchange the viewpoints and reflected the puppetry work as well as the performance art of the two countries. This was truly the creation of dissemination venue for publicizing and conservation of puppetry culture to sustain along the Me Kong in the future.

News: Jiraporn Pratomchai


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