Friday, 6 November 2009

Red Demon and Loy Kratong

On the night of the November full moon, or full moon of the 12th month in the Thai calender (12th Night)I went to my first Likay performance at the Jim Thompson house as Eric Booth kindly invited me along to see Red Demon - an adaptation of a Japanese folklore.

The Red Demon

Likay is a traditional Thai form of theatre - a stage play where there is song, dance and prose. . . meant to be humourous but with often an underlying tone of seriousness (moral lesson even) and in this case a comic tragedy very much in the tradition of Shakespeare with the fool telling the tale. . . it was engaging, funny and haunting as it stood as a symbol very much for what is wrong with nations and humans generally . . .it left us with an overwhelming feeling of catharsis, the kind of feeling that Marlowe or the Bard himself would approve of.  Then again Likay in its pure form did originate in the court of King Rama IV and grew into the popular form as we know it today in the court of King Rama V . . .what was interesting is how it took from local themes, local songs and weaved it into the Likay form . . In this case it was influenced by the south of Thailand and the songs of Java (a nod to the problems in the south perhaps?). . .It was wonderful for the senses and the costumes would make Christophe Decarnin proud and the acting was truly brilliant.

As it was 12th night and the night of Loy Kratong where we go to the river and give thanks to the River Goddess by offering her a vessel or kratong of flowers with incense and light . . .it is one of the most beautiful festivals in Thailand.  

bread kratongs (food for fish)

It also evokes a time past where the river was king and not the streets.. . .we went via BTS - like we were on a field trip to Eric's boat . .the Jim Thompson boat which is usually at The Oriental.  It is not large but is truly beautiful, charming especially in detail.

We were fortuitous to be able to catch the display of fireworks from the boat in time . . .perfect view . . .
then cruised up river where the water would be
 still enough for us to float our kratongs . . . 

a decorative barge


There was definitely water traffic and wonderful barges on display.  We finally did find a spot and it should be no other place than in front of the sacred Grand Palace . . .

a floating lantern and the Grand Palace

My little kratong was definitely a fighter . . .then again everyone's was . . . you set it free and leave your worries behind and give thanks to the river for giving us life.  
kratongs, Warn, P'Eric and P'Mai

my kratong and I

Beautiful really . . . a vessel of hope and humility.

Pow and I felt so lucky that night - we expected to go to Red Demon and find some place to float a kratong not knowing that Eric had planned the most magical journey up river . . . again, like the last time I saw a performance at the JT house, it was a most surreal night. Where life imitates art and you are shown that the simple things can be blissful and between the catharsis from a staged comic-tragedy and the hope derived from the river and light . . life is pretty complete when you go with the flow and have a little hope.

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