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Thailand Drama



Thailand Drama

Thailand drama totally intertwines with the Thailand dance, in the classical form.

The Thai traditional dance is included in the category of the most attractive traditions and rituals. The experience of seeing the actors dressed in wonderful costumes and miming the ancient stories is different, beautiful and hard to forget.

The Thailand drama and the dance representation used to be allowed in the noble mansions and imperial courts only. The common Thais had access to them in the Buddhist monasteries on different celebrations.


Our days, these forms of arts are under the royal family’s protection in order to keep their purity.


The division between the Thai dance and the Thailand drama in the contemporary arts is clear, the theatres having now more modern productions with influences from West. Thailand drama, the classical one, includes a dance drama style called Lakhon, the masked drama called Khon, a ritual dance that is performed before the Thai kickboxing and called Ram Muay, shadow plays (Nang Talung and Nang Yai), the folk dance form called Fawn Thai, Wai Khru which is performed as a tribute to a teacher, Hun (with marionettes) and the popular Likay. The difference in Likay, Lakhon and Khon are subtle, the dance being used as a storytelling way. There is no certain information about the khon’s origins but it is supposed that the prototype existed in the 14th century CE.


Thailand Drama

In the khon performances all the actors have painted masks, excepting the actors who take the female roles. Until the ‘30s, only the male actors took the roles.


The Ramakien episodes are the bases of the performances, with Phra Ram, the hero, fights with Thotsakan-the villain. The death of Thotsakan is not portrayed on stage because it is thought that may bring misfortune.


A chorus accompanied by a musical group narrates the story in verses and the dancing style puts accent on the body and the legs’ movements.


The other part of the Thailand drama, lakhon appeared in the Ayutthaya period and it has two subdivisions: lakhon nai (dance-drama performed inside the royal court) and lakhon nok (with performances outside the royal court).


There are differences between the two Thailand drama styles, such as differences of costumes, musical accompaniment, dancing style and of the performed stories.

Inao, Ramakien and Unarut are epic poems where the stories of the lakhon nai are taken from. Is still used to have both the female and the male parts taken by women and the men can play the clowns part.

The actors don’t wear masks excepting the demons and the monkeys’ part.

The characteristics of this Thailand drama are represented by the movements of the arms in graceful ways and hand’s gesture, with the accompaniment of a chorus from offstage and a little orchestra.

Drama in Thailand

The other style of the Thailand drama, lakhon nok is a drama-folk dance mix, with more action and dance movements, scenes of melodrama and comedy. The basics are on jataka tales, stories about the Buddha’s past lives.



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