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Thai-Drama

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									Thai Drama
Author: Manora
Drama
In the purely classical form, Thai drama and dance are indivisible.

The khon masked drama is derived from Indian temple rituals and dancing and draws its story lines from the Ramakien. During the
Ayutthaya period, the khon was acted by accomplished male court retainers playing both male and female roles because until the 19th
century the movements were thought to be too strenuous for women to perform. By the mid-1800s both men and women were appearing
on stage together.

Torchlit performances were often held in palace halls and courtyards. Dispensing with complicated scenery, khon perfor-mances are
characterized by vigorous, highly-formalized action. Acting and dancing are inseparable, each step having a definite meaning which is
emphasized by precisely-defined music to suggest walking, marching, laughing, etc. Because actors and actresses are masked and
cannot speak, narrative verses are recited and sung by a chorus that sits with the accompanying woodwind, gong and drum ensemble.

The papier mache, lacquer, gold, minutely-detailed and bejewelled masks are works of art, and perfectly portray the protagonists'
personalities. Costumes are rich brocades decorated with sparkling costume jewellery, and closely resemble the apparel adorning
royalty and celestial beings in classical Thai mural paintings. Major characters are readily identifiable by the predominant colours of their
costumes. Rama wears deep green, his brother, Lakshman, wears gold and Hanuman wears white.

Khon productions were originally so long - more than 20 hours - that perfor-mances were staged on two consecutive days. Indeed, a
khon performance of the entire Ramakien (with 311 characters!) would take more than one month (720 hours plus!) of continuous
performance. Rama II's shorter version of the Ramakien is used for dramatic purposes and contemporary adaptations of certain
episodes are as short as three hours.

Lakorn dance drama is less formal and actors, with the exceptions of monkeys, ogres and other non-human, non-celestial beings, do not
wear masks. Lakorn plots are drawn mainly from the Ramakien, the Jatakas (collected Buddhist tales), and folk stories. Khon and lakorn
costumes are identical but lakorn dance movements are more graceful, sensual and fluid, the upper torso and hands being particularly
expres-sive with conventionalized movements por-traying specific emotions. Because the steps are very taxing on the dancers'
energies, a chorus sings narrative as in the khon.

Lakorn is sub-divided into numerous variations, the major three being lakorn jatri, lakorn nawk and lakorn nai. Lakorn jatri, a type of
itinerant theatre, is derived from 'Manohra', the chief folk entertainment of southern Thailand. Simplest of all lakorn in form and
presentation, lakorn jatri is often seen at popular shrines, such as Bangkok's Lak Muang (City Pillar) near the Emerald Buddha Temple
where dancers are hired by supplicants whose wishes have been granted (to win lottery prizes, promotion and the like) to perform for the
shrine deity according to the fee they have received. In Thailand's South, lakorn jatri remains a living, extremely popular art form, drawing
together and delighting large crowds.

Lakorn nai drama was originally presented only by court ladies in the palace. It was graceful, romantic and highly stylized. Lakorn nawk
plays on the other hand, were performed outside the palace and acted only by men. Filled with lively music, off-colour humour and rapid,
animated movements, lakorn nawk was the ancestor of the enormously popular likay folk theatre.

Each form has borrowed from the other and today they are remarkably similar. Both are now performed by men and women, the major
remaining difference being that lakorn nai continues to confine itself to dramas with romantic themes like Inao.
Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/news-and-society-articles/thai-drama-1605458.html
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