Live theater connects communities on many levels. Long term residents of can attend performances, become supporting members, take acting workshops, work behind the scenes, and get involved in many other ways. It’s a way to contribute to the expat community and enrich the lifestyle for foreigners living in Chiang Mai. You’ve done the tourist activities.Now you want more. You want ongoing activities that help you meet people and will give you a connection to this expat community in Chiang Mai. Like any community, cultural and social activities give the community it’s identity and enrich the lives of the people who live there. You need activities that make living as part of a community enjoyable. I’ve covered some of this information in a previous post. http://wp.me/p7sj2T-IG But there is so much more in this very rich and diverse Chiang Mai community.
Today let’s look at theater as an important cultural activity. Historically, there are three main aspects that identify a culture: theater, music, and art. Theater is a very important aspect of any culture, but one if the most difficult to establish. It takes a time, people, and commitment. You could say it is a sign of an established society or sub-culture. You will not find live theater in an expat community that is strictly mobile. However, even if you are just passing through, you can enjoy the results of the efforts of long term residents love and support of theater by attending a local performance.
In Chiang Mai, we are privileged to have Gate Theater, a local English speaking live theater that has been established for ten years. By drawing on the diverse talents of the local expats and English speaking Thais in Chiang Mai, Gate Theater has been consistently putting on four main stage productions every season.
In celebration of ten years of live theater, Gate Theater is embarking on a new endeavor to boost this community theater to a professional level. The first result of this long term plan was recently seen in Gate’s Talent Showcase. By combining dramatic monologues with stand up comedy, music, and dance, the public enjoyed and evening of variety that showed off the talents of local artists that are not often seen in Chiang Mai. There is so much hidden talent here and it is important that the English speaking community be aware of it and support opportunities for these talented people to shine. https://www.facebook.com/TheGateTheater/
I took the opportunity to photograph some of the performers during their final rehearsal and get sneak preview of what was to be a performance to a packed house at the AUA auditorium.
Dramatic performances ranged from Shakespearean monologues to original modern drama.
Stand-up comedy kept the mood light.
Live music got the audience participating.
Hip hop performances surprised the audience with beat box rhythms and a hula hoop number to the rhythm of our own performers‘ voices.
And the finale!
The creative thinking of Stephan Turner, Gate Theater’s Founder and Artistic Director, brought about this new venue as a way to raise awareness of the possibilties of performing arts in Chiang Mai. This informal performance style is his way of making a connection with the community which seeks out and highlights our local talent. The result was a group of diverse performers who are both Thai and farang (foreigners) from many different countries. They ranged in age 20-70s and in experience from first time performers to seasoned professionals.
All the performers participated in acting classes sponsored by Gate Theater and lead by Stephan. These classes will continue on a rotating basis and will serve, not only as a source for light performances like the recent talent show, but also as a way to build a cadre of trained actors who will be chosen for parts in main stage productions.
How can you participate? Gate Theater wants to give you the best quality entertainment from top performers in Chiang Mai. With this in mind, Gate Theater’s members have more than just monetary contributions to offer. You are a knowledge and talent base that can support the growth of an important cultural endeavor in Chiang Mai. Think creatively. Even if you have no experience, there are ways that you can contribute to help local theater thrive in Chiang Mai. In addition to action and backstage work there is lots more that needs to be done to keep a live theater going. There’s a website and social media that needs to be refreshed often Along with that there is a need for marketing and advertising to keep Gate in the forefront of expat entertainment options. So hey, all you digital nomads, if you are sticking around, there are lots of ways you can contribute, too.
I hope I’ve aroused your interest in local live theater and given you some ideas about ways to participate. Even if it’s just becoming a regular member and helping keep live theater alive and well in Chiang Mai, you are an important part of the puzzle. These kinds of local arts activities are what will continue to make Chiang Mai, not just a tourist destination, but a great place to live.