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Spelling it out

B-Floor Theatre's latest production takes a light and dark approach to censorship

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This year, all of B-Floor Theatre's productions have been a reaction to Article 112 cases and social sanctions against those who have, or are accused of having, less-than-glowing views of the Thai monarchy. However, Bang La Merd (My Wonderfully Smiling City), written, directed and performed by Oranong Thaisriwong, is, thank heaven, the first to simply say that yes, we're talking about the lese majeste law and the constant fear and possibility of landing in jail for doing or saying anything that touches up on the monarchy. 

In the first scene, Oranong tells the audience of her original intention to use the Royal Anthem in the show in a way that could possibly be considered illegal. She details her consultations with her friends who are legal experts and her discussions with other B-Floor members. The actress doesn't say what she had planned to do with the song, and after much consideration, we're going to have to deal with the fact that she has decided to censor herself. This is the first time, perhaps, that we're seeing and hearing onstage the thoughts and decision-making process of a censored person and the admission of self-censorship.

The scene is a cry of protest just as the previous B-Floor productions this year have been, but by opening the show as such, Bang La Merd (literally "area of violation") goes where the other productions have not gone: it makes it more difficult for the audience and critics to avoid the sensitive topics that she raises and to question their own self-censorship as they discuss the show or address the issue of censorship in public.

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