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Confronting Otherness through Theatre: On Directing The Merchant of Venice for Thai Audiences

posted on 2020-12-24, 13:20 authored by Dangkamon Na-pombejra
This article analyzes on a new directorial approach to Venice Vanija (เวนิสวาณิช), a Thai version of William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice (written 1596–99) and translated by King Rama vi (r. 1910–1925). It aimed to create a new space and new rules that would encourage Thai audiences to embrace new perspectives by watching the performance. The production was directed by the author in 2018 in the Department of Dramatic Arts in the Faculty of Arts at Chulalongkorn University. The directing approach focused on the play’s famous line “all that glitters is not
gold;” (Act ii, scene vii, line 65), and stressed how struggles between majorities and “the Other” are connected to identity conflicts that contrast with tensions with other people and conflicts within the whole community. The above focus was elaborated by using alienation effects, including a grotesque
modern fairytale-like look, a nearly all-female cast, a distinctive traverse stage and set design, effeminate costumes for male characters portrayed by actresses, and mixed acting techniques. The director achieved his goals by concentrating on the message and the main conflicts in the play, transforming “aliens into the allies” through using good surprises and friendly attacks, and respecting every party.