Self-censorship has become their nature, but in many cases, this cautious element turned out to be a very funny and satisfying form of communication towards the audience.
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Share the brief Realities and a glimpse of Resilience
Suranya Poonyaphitak (BIPAM, POTPAN)
During our one-hour period round table on the topic of “Realities, Resilience, and Transformation of International Exchanges between ASEAN and KOREA” on 28th September 2022, we were only able to share the brief ‘realities’ and a glimpse of ‘resilience,’ but we haven’t touched the ‘transformation’ part. One of the reasons was surely the limitation of time, and another, I think, was that the panel had not yet come to a conclusion as the discussion process among us was still ongoing.
In Thailand, our political unrest and the tangled consequences affected the performing art scene in many ways. Some artists were put on trial, even in jails. Military officers were sent to monitor and record every performance reported earlier as a presumed suspect of the Lèse-majesté law violation. Many artists created works using the political situation as their source materials and content. Thus, self-censorship has become their nature, but in many cases, this cautious element turned out to be a very funny and satisfying form of communication towards the audience. Art venues also changed over the past couple of years, even before COVID. Independent, self-funded, small performing art venues have mostly disappeared from Bangkok. On the other hand, multi-functional commercial venues that want to include art in their spaces have been rising. This change is a big shift coming with the pros and cons that artists in Thailand’s capital city have to deal with. That concludes a brief of Thai realities and resilience that I have shared in the session.
I appreciated it when Ejan and Shaifulbahri, the panel members from Malaysia and Singapore, mentioned the ASEAN visibility on the world stage, which is still very little. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank KOFICE and PAMS for their understanding of the necessity to include our region and make this round table happen and available in this year’s market.
Even though the session was a bit too short for the panel and participants to share and have a deeper and further discussion, maybe a 1.30- or 2-hour period might be just what was needed for the topic, I think it was a nice introduction. Hopefully, in the future, after more discussions and research within the Creative Platform for ASEAN-Korea, we could offer more to the public, whether it may be another round table in the next PAMS or any other means of sharing.I especially liked the Wrap-up event on the last day, where PAMS asked for participants' comments and reflections. I appreciate how open and friendly the session was. I was more familiar with the post-event feedback in writings from participants. Hearing the feedback live at the end of the festival was new to me. But I think it was brilliant. The organizer was brave enough to tap into the moment's immediacy, which was great because the participants’ experiences were still fresh. It was very beneficial to all parties, in my opinion.
I had an opportunity to discuss this with another participant in PAMS. She questioned that sustainability, a theme mentioned a lot during the market period, is relevant to all theatre communities as, in many places, the issue might not be one of the immediate concerns. Not to mention that the theatre community is a very small part of the whole ecosystem. I also agree with her, partially, though. Sustainability is not an immediate concern in Thailand, and I agree that our part is very small. However, I do encourage us, as a small community, to talk about it, mention it, and be aware of it, as it is also the current global situation and responsibility. And now this also reminds me of one of the things that I valued during the Creative Platform for ASEAN-Korea workshop. When Jisun talked about sustainability, she also shared her perspective that we can view sustainability in arts as a creative tool to prevent the extinction of imagination. So, yes, I would love to discuss sustainability in many facets. And to hear more about it from ASEAN, Korea, and everywhere.