Everything is not going to be OK

Circle Theatre, founded by a group of Chulalongkorn alumni, is producing a play entitled 'OK Land'. It is set in a convenience store in a fictional country called "Angel Land", which resembles Thailand. The play discusses the many situations people are experiencing during the pandemic. Guru speaks to director Paspawisa Jewpattanagul and playwright Nuttamon Pramsumran about the play.

Circle Theatre’s co-founders: Monsuntorn Surach, Paspawisa Jewpattanagul and Nuttamon Pramsumran. (Photos: OK Land)

How was Circle Theatre established?

Nuttamon: In 2018, Monsuntorn Surach [Circle Theatre's set designer] and I co-founded Circle Theatre. Paspawisa joined us afterwards. Three of us got to know each other during our studies at the Dramatic Arts Department, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University. We wanted to stage my original scripts that reflect emerging issues of Thai society.

What's the story behind the name, 'OK Land'?

Nuttamon: We all know the taste of Bangkok's heat. Everyone takes refuge in an air-conditioned convenience store, even dogs are always at the front of the store. Once you step into this 'land' and are welcomed by staff, food, drinks and everything you may need, your life seems to be 'OK', as long as you can pay.

How did the idea for 'OK Land' come about?

Nuttamon: We'll never be far from a convenience store in Bangkok, especially one brand. I'm interested in the power game between the store, the customer and how the employees try to find a balance between being company representatives and empathising with the customer.

What drew you to write a play surrounding this theme?

Nuttamon: I saw the presence of monopolies in Thailand clearer over the past few years. They don't bother to hide their existence anymore. Many industries are dominated by just one or two players, the same goes for politics. Now, people are demanding change to the power structures and that resonates with me.

Can you talk about the characters in the play and what they represent?

Paspawisa: The characters represent people from various backgrounds with different and often controversial opinions. The dialogue between them trying to communicate with each other reveals why everything is not OK in our country.

What is the biggest challenge in putting on this play?

Paspawisa: It's finding the way to portray the parallel universe that lies beyond the preconceived notions of the audience.

How has working on this play affected you personally?

Paspawisa: Working on this play makes me realise that we are about to go through the worst phase when it comes to politics, really soon.

Nuttamon: I am always fascinated by the process of bringing a script to life. As a playwright, it's the opportunity to listen to different opinions, embrace changes, and allow adjustments that the team suggested for the better. My work has become teamwork.

What should the audience take away from the play?

Paspawisa: I hope that they continue to dream about a better future, even when it makes them scared.

Nuttamon: I hope that they enjoy the physical and emotional experiences they get from this fictional convenience store. You may find the play weirdly entertaining, yet disturbing at times, just like our reality.

'OK Land' will take place at 7.30 every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night from Dec 3-5 and Dec 10-12, at 6060 Arts Space. For reservations, call 082-243-9945 or visit fb.com/circletheatrebkk. Tickets are priced at B500 (B350 for students). English subtitles will be aired for the Dec 5 and Dec 12 shows.

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