No matter how long I spend in Bangkok, I am constantly confronted by new experiences and unknown treasures. One such gem is the Patravadi Theatre. Located on the far banks of the Chao Phraya River, the theatre is a training ground for Thai artists and it also showcases classical and contemporary work. I first discovered the theatre by accident after getting off the ferry at Wang Lung pier and visiting Siriraj hospital. Afterward, I decided to explore the colourful narrow alleys full of food stalls and small shops, which run alongside the river. At the end of one alley I came across a sign announcing the entrance to the Patravadi Theatre Company and was compelled to investigate.
Choosing the right hand path, I found I found myself in a beautifully ornate Thai-style garden. From June to February, the garden doubles as an open-air theatre, where up to 450 people can enjoy weekend performances. This is Bangkok’s only open-air playhouse and offers a unique experience for those in need of cultural entertainment.
In one corner of the garden, a photography gallery displays images of the performers and stills of the performances. Across the garden is a large restaurant, which offers picturesque views across the river. Known as Studio 9, this Dining Theatre by the River offers entertainment as well as tasty, affordable Thai food.
The theatre was founded in 1992 by Patravadi Mejudhon, who also serves as the theatre’s artistic director. The main goal of the theatre is to provide training and experience for Thai artists. The theatre provides workshops to both professionals and students of the Mahidol Universities. In addition, the theatre’s exchange programme brings directors and choreographers from all over the world to train in Thai classical folk dancing. The site of the Patravadi Theatre was originally home to a school, built by Khunying Supatra Singholaka, Patravadi’s mother. The aim of the school was to serve the community and to this day part of the site has been reserved and maintained for this purpose. The Patravadi Theatre has developed widely since its creation. Its blend of traditional Thai decoration and culture with the addition of contemporary styles makes it a unique experience. Now, with an extra five art centres around Thailand, the Patravadi Theatre continues to grow, occasionally playing host to choreographers, directors and designers from around the world.
Not only bound to Bangkok, the Patravadi Theatre has performed on behalf of the Thai Government in cities such as London, Paris, Milan, Frankfurt and Kuala Lumpur. The Patravadi Theatre provides both short and long term visitors as well as residents of Bangkok with a much needed dose of culture. Visit www.patravaditheatre.com to find out about current and upcoming events. Special performances can be arranged upon request. For details, contact Khun Arunrak on (66) 018431598 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are interested in taking part, contact Khun Pang (66) 01855165541 or email email@example.com
No visit to the Patravadi Theatre would be complete without sampling the refreshments at the Patravadi Restaurant. Open daily from 11 am-9 pm, the restaurant offers relaxing herbal teas and juices, Thai, vegetarian and Italian food and delicious homemade deserts.
About the author:
Kirsty Turner (Kay) is currently living in Bangkok where she teaches English at Rajabhat Suan Dusit. Kay has kindly agreed to write for KhaoSanRoad.com and share her love of all things Thai and, especially, all things Khao San Road!