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Monday, April 27, 2009


So, who invented soap opera?

Last week Thai language students at MSU gave performances of a play adapted from a traditional Thai folk tale called 'Khun Chang Khun Pan'. It was presented in Thai. I didn't expect my Thai listening skills to have progressed to the point of being able to follow it. But being a storyteller I was interested. I found an abbreviated version of the story online that gave me the plot. At Saturday night's performance I don't claim to have followed the details but I knew who the important characters were and had some idea of what was going on.

Khun Chang and Khun Pan are two men who love the same woman, Nang Wantong. She agrees to marry Khun Pan. They plant a tree as a symbol of their love. When Khun Pan goes off to war, Khun Chang pours hot water on the tree killing it. He tells Nang Wantong that this is proof that her husband is dead and offers to marry her. This goes well until Khun Pan returns and demands his wife back. However Khun Pan has not exactly been faithful to his wife. He has a few other wives who he married in his travels. Eventually he goes off again and Wantong takes up with Khun Chang once more. But she is pregnant to Khun Pan and bears his son who doesn't get on too well with his stepfather. There are many fights between them and the son wants the stepfather dead. After many years Khun Pan returns and declares his love for her. The king steps in and tells her she has to declare which husband she really loves. She can't make up her mind. I guess the moral of the story is that a woman should not have two husbands as the king has her executed.

The standard of the production was up to what I would expect from a better amateur production in Australia. The costumes were colourful and, to me, looked authentic. Musical backing was well integrated with some of the musicians also taking small parts in the play. I look forward to their next production.

More pictures of the play are on my current flickr page--see 'my latest photos' link on the sidebar.

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