Up-and-coming writer-director- performer Nophand Boonyai is back with another playful creation for the stage. Like his highly successful Therapy (After The Flood) last year, Adoption is a largely improvised show featuring three couples competing to adopt one child.
In Therapy (After The Flood), Nophand brought together actors and real-life art therapists to simulate therapy sessions. From the rehearsals through to the performances, each session was a progression from the previous one, and therefore improvised. This time in Adoption, Nophand combines documentary film-style interviews with a reality game show to render portraits of modern-day parenting and our relationship with figures of authority. So we can expect some comedy, unusual staging and audience participation.
Nophand talks to Life about parenting, letting go of his ideas, and why he loves documentaries and game shows.
What got you interested in adoption? To you, is this more about parenting than adoption?
I have questions about the idea of guardianship, not only in terms of parents, but also in terms of those in charge of us in society in general. Where are we from? How were we raised and taught? What makes us think that we would be good parents to someone or that we would be able to fulfil someone's needs?
I'm interested in the relationships between parents and our relationships with authority figures. I want to see how much domestic relationships reflect those outside the home.
Do you also explore the relationship between the parents? What kinds of relationships are there in the show?
There are so many types of relationships, but we're just doing three couples. [In the adoption situation], nobody is ever going to present themselves as bad people. I'm not interested in good people. In a lot of countries, people have gotten past the idea of what constitutes a good person or a bad person. In Thailand, we're still attached to the idea of a good person, a person who goes to the temple and makes merit. I'm more interested in exploring the negative side, the dark side of each couple.
How did you develop these characters? Did you develop them as individual characters or as couples?
I gave the actors an idea of each couple, what I wanted to see from each of them. Then I wrote out in detail the couples' backgrounds to help guide them a little, but if they had an idea of what these people's backgrounds were, I didn't have a problem with that either. I had the initial images of each couple, but then I didn't see the point of sticking too much to my own images. I wanted to let the actors use the things that were closest to them to develop their characters. I initially wanted see sides of these actors that I had never seen before, but then I decided to let them develop their characters in an organic way. I realised I shouldn't force anything or destroy what they have to offer, but instead maximise the potential of what they have to offer.
How did you cast?
I had in mind the actors I wanted to work with. I wanted a conservative couple, the so-called perfect couple: educated, well-mannered, cultured, financially stable. They're a couple that's easy to read. As soon as you see them, you know what to expect from them. With the second couple, I wanted the look of the new generation: bright, innocent, a reflection of a sparkling love. The third couple is played by two non-actors. In the alternative theatre scene, there are not many performers so I wanted to see whether non-actors could do it. Before we started rehearsing for the show, I interviewed and recorded the performers on camera. I realised I had interesting performers. Plus, I didn't want a typical style of stage acting. I wanted it to be more like a documentary.
You like to play with forms in your work. What are you playing with this time?
The show is divided into two parts. The first part is in a documentary style. The second part is like a reality/game show _ voting, appealing to the audience.
Why are you interested in these two forms?
I'm very interested in the documentary form. It's very revealing when people are being interviewed. It's like looking at a still portrait. I usually do shows that have a lot of movement, which is fun, but this time I just wanted it to be contained. As for the reality show, I find the energy in this form of entertainment to be unparalleled. I like to watch performers in that mode of being the participants of a game show.
Adoption runs every Thursday to Sunday, from Feb 28 until March 16, at 8pm, at Democrazy Theatre Studio, Soi Saphan Khu. Tickets are 350 baht until March 4, 400 baht from March 7 to 11, and 450 baht from March 14 to 16. Call 081-489-3656.
About the author
- Writer: Amitha Amranand