A love triangle between a man, a woman and a snake, Mae Bia, the 1987 novel by SEA Write Award recipient Wanich Jarungkitanan, is making its way back into the spotlight. This time it arrives in a form that's become increasingly popular: a musical.
Thapanat Sattayanurak and Ratha Pho-ngarm.
After its musical debut with Rak Ther Samer: The Musical last year, Index Creative Villager returns to M Theatre with a more ambitious Mae Bia: The Erotic Art Musical, a self-promoting title. The show stars singer-turned-actress Ratha Pho-ngarm in the lead role. Ratha, currently the talk of the town for her role in the erotic film Jan Dara plays Mekhla, a seductive, mysterious woman who returns from abroad to live in her ancestral home that's protected by a guardian snake. When a married man (played by Thapanat Sattayanurak ) falls in love with her, the snake sets out to terrorise the couple.
Veteran theatre actor Marut Sarowat directs the musical. He took time out to speak with Life about the serpentine romance.
What is your impression about Mae Bia the novel?
I find the book amazing. It is a great Thai literature, penned by a very talented writer. It represents different perspectives of the Thai society. And I love how the story has an artistic way of dealing with issues such as sex and desire that are not spoken of openly in public. It has many symbols, and these symbols are challenging for me as a director to interpret and present them through acting or dialogue.
What makes this remake different from other versions?
Director Marut Sarowat
The novel has already been made into drama series twice, and once as a film. About 20 years ago, it was adapted into a stage play at Thammasat University.
This is the first time the story is being told in musical form. And this is indeed a challenge.
The six main characters from the book, all have prominent roles in this show as we studied each of those character more deeply than in other versions. Dialogue and songs are full of philosophical ideas for audiences to ponder.
Could you explain the reasoning behind the show's title, Mae Bia: The Erotic Art Musical?
The book is about sex, desire and debauchery. If you show it bluntly, then it could become pornography. Through art _ in this case, a musical _ we are trying to tell this erotic story to the audiences in an artistic way with the help of performing art, music and technical effects.
Why did you choose Ratha Pho-ngarm to play Mekhla?
Ratha stands out from other candidates. She is a daughter of famed comedienne Noi Pho-ngarm, so acting is in her blood. And lately she has proved her acting talent in drama series and films. She was a famous singer once, so she can sing beautifully. I know her since she was small, and she has grown up and showing a lot of potential.
Her eyes are stunningly beautiful, but that pair of eyes are foxy in a way, which is perfect for the character. Ratha is no longer a teenager. She has blossomed into a woman. She knows what it's like to be in love and heart-broken, and that is very important for an actress who is going to play this role. That is why she was chosen for the role.
In the film version, there was a famous scene of Mekhla in traditional costume seated on coconut grater in a provocative posture. The scene has become emblematic of the story. Are we going to see such a scene in your version?
I have to say the scene is rather misleading and missing from the original story. Mekhla doesn't like to cook, but her mother does. So, for me, I don't think it is necessary to add a scene that doesn't exist in the book. Besides, the story focuses on the snake as the symbol of the whole story and the love affair between the two main characters, so we are going to stick with that.
Why do you think people should come and see the show?
Nowadays, people still feel ashamed to talk about sex. Sex remains a taboo, in a way.
We seem to fail to acknowledge sex education is necessary for the younger generation, given that the number of young pregnancies is rising.
Coming to the show, the audiences, especially women, would be able to learn from it, through the dialogues, lyrics and the performance of actors.
Mae Bia: The Erotic Art Musical will premier on Sept 28 at M Theatre, New Phetchaburi Road and runs until Oct 14.
Call Thai Ticket Major at 02-262-3456 or visit www.thaiticketmajor.com.
About the author
- Writer: Yanapon Musiket
Position: Life Writer