Photo essay for the Special Initiative “From Fear to Resilience: Visual Storytelling of COVID-19 in Southeast Asia” by SEA Junction and Partners.
|Title||“Stay Away from Covid-19” Dance Performance in Thailand|
|Storyteller/Artist||Lopburi College of Dramatic Arts|
Thailand’s first novel coronavirus infected case was confirmed on 13 January 2020, but it was only after the super spreader boxing event in early March that the government announced the State of Emergency and ordered a closure of businesses until at least 30 April 2020. As the number of cases increased various communities organized themselves to contribute to prevention efforts and to support the people in need giving out masks, alcohol gel and food.
Among them, Lopburi College of Dramatic Arts Bunditpatanasilpa Institute under the Ministry of Culture launched a public education initiative to spread information about how to prevent COVID-19 using a cultural approach. The Bunditpatanasilpa Institute is responsible for culture education in the fields of dance, music, arts and crafts from basic to higher education and is entrusted with “the continuation, the creation, the nurturing and the diffusion of arts and culture as national identify and also to preserve cultural diversity”.
The lecturer and students of the Institute took one week to prepare for a performance on how to fight COVID-19. They used the Chatri dance, a type of dramatic arts dance that is usually performed by an all-male cast to pay respect to the masters before the main performance starts. This type of dance-drama is widely known as it is in the curriculum of dramatic arts dance colleges across the country and it is performed at religious rituals to placate spirits and gain favors. In this case, the dance was adapted to express how to “stay away” from Covid-19 by using face shield, wearing a mask, washing hands with alcohol gel and staying at home eventually using (food) delivery. In this particular Covid-19 time, the Chatri dance is performed as a metaphor of asking for protection from the masters to ward off bad things.
The text of the lyrics produced by Polnasak Sapbangyang is as follows:
Dear all People. Covid-19 has come to Thailand
The disease is widely infectious. We know it is dangerous
The government and medical team are courageous to fight the disease
Let’s join for the nation. Stay home to stop the disease.
Eat cooked food and use separate spoons.
Wash your hands, Clean it often.
Keep two meter-distance from each other.
Don’t stay close, just keep the distance
Use alcohol gel. Don’t wait, clean up your hands
At home, don’t trust. We can’t be careless at any time
We can use delivery services. Just make a call, they will serve you.
Food is important. Be careful what you eat
Wear masks. When you go out, don’t forget it
They say face-shield is good. Get it for your protection
Please wish us well.
Protect us and stay with us until these gloomy days are over
We fight this together. Encouragement means a lot at this time
Covid-19 will pass with our solidarity and support to one another
We, Thai dramatic arts performers, musicians and all sisters and brothers.
We are in solidarity. We will pass through this crisis.
Good luck to everyone.
After rehearsal, the “Stay Away from COVID 19 Dance” was performed and recorded in video format for distribution to the public through social media and other means. This endeavor was not only to emphasize how to behave during this pandemic time, it also shows that the arts can be used to convey messages to people and encourage them to follow preventive measures while having fun watching the performance.
Advisor of the performance design: Satcha Phupaengsut; main actor and performance designer: Phukit Pasunan; dancers: Cholchart Srimuang and Sittipon Damrongbul; soldier (delivery man): Napat Pankong; music performers: Narongrit Kongpin (symbal), Polnasak Sapbangyang (bagpipe and lyrics producer), Supatcha Padungsuth (drum Klong Chatri), Prasong Chantapan (drum Ton Chatri), Tawatchai Pengchan (refrain singer); music recorder: Trairong Trirananont; costume: Chita Tasmalai, Anas Malawong and Lopburi College of Dramatic Arts’ costume department; performance equipment: Surachai Sribubpha; photographer and VDO editor: Natthawut Boonchusorn and Saranyu Prasong-archawa; cosmetics: Phubate Khumsap; staffs: Sakchai Khammee and Denpichai Rimchaeng; producer: Chaowanat Pengsuk (Director of Lopburi College of Dramatic Arts)
From Fear to Resilience: Visual Storytelling of COVID-19 in Southeast Asia is a special initiative of SEA Junction and its partners Beyond Food, GAATW and Bangkok Tribune to provide an alternative visual narrative of the pandemic in the region. We believe in the importance of reducing fear and promote informed policy and public discussion to show that COVID19 is also a tale of survival, resilience and solidarity. We are asking for short stories in the form of photo essays, short documentaries and illustrated art essays in any language of Southeast Asia (to be later translated into English) or in English.
See further: http://seajunction.org/special-initiatives/
Stay Away from Covid-19 Dance Performance