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Related Tour Program
Duration
thai dance

Khon Hanuman Thai Masked Dance (Ticket Only), Code S-92
Buy tickets for Khon-Thai Classical Masked Dance at the Sala Chalermkrung Royal Theatre.
Show every Thursday
and Friday
19.30-21.00 hours.

By Busaba

Khon is the most refined of all Thai performance arts. It is a traditional Thai masked drama which combines gracefulness with masculinity in its dancing. It is believed to date back to the Ayutthaya Period (1350-1767) and to have originated no less than 400 years ago. It is a classical dance drama acknowledged as the most sophisticated form of Thai theatre. The khon roles are male humans, female humans, monkeys and demons. The latter two are dominant ones.

The performance is accompanied by a lead singer and chorus, a story narrator, a dialogue narrator and the piphat orchestra. Traditionally all its performers wore masks. But presently the performers taking the roles of gods and male humans do away with the masks; only demons and monkeys still wear masks. Traditionally, performers in the masked drama were men only and men played all the female roles. This is due to the fact that the masked-play was performed inside the court exclusively. Presently women are playing the female parts.

The stories played in khon performance are invariably those of Lord Rama, a reincarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu who is the hero in the Indian epic Ramayana or Ramakian in the Thai version. A greater part of the epic is concerned with the protracted war between Rama the righteous king and Thotsakan the king of demons, which is touched off by the abduction of Rama’s beloved consort by the demon king.

As khon is basically a dance, its performers must harmonize their steps and poses with the recitations and songs of the chorus and the music of the small orchestra. This requires strict training of the dancers from their childhood. Normally, children start practicing khon dance by the age of 8 to 9 years, as most postures of khon dance require high level of flexibility. Apart from dance and music, khon also combines other artistic skills in the creation of costumes, accessories, props and scenes.

Presently, new sets of khon costume are being created by royal command of Her Majesty the Queen, who is concerned that khon performances are in the decline today and less attention is paid to the elaborate details of costume making, embroidery, and facial make-up. The old costume is worn-out and ill-repaired. As a traditional performing art form of Thailand, khon represents the national identity and therefore

there is a need to preserve the traditional craftsmanship of khon maskmaking, costume embroidery, silver and gold decorations and accessories, and the traditional art of stage make-up. These traditional crafts excellently represent Thailand's national art and culture.

Royal Khon Performance

by SUPPORT Foundation

Khon performance of The Foundation for the Promotion of Supplementary Occupations and Related  Techniques (SUPPORT) under the Royal Patronage of Her Majesty the Queen is known as the royal khon. It is organized every year for one month between November and December, at Thailand Cultural Center, on Ratchadapisek Road in Bangkok. The performance is about 2.30 hours long.

The Royal Khon has been initiated in 2007 by the command of H.M.Queen Sirikit in order to preserve Khon performance which is considered as classical dancing art of the upper class in Thailand. Her Majesty's intention is to preserve this performance as value national treasure of Thai culture. Moreover, Her Majesty has ordered to improve brand new khon costume and also new method of royal khon make-up pattern according to modern technology. The art of royal khon make-up techniques are unique and use specific processes which are based on the painting of khon masks.

The first performance (in 2007), focused on the episode of "The Battle of Indrajit: Prommas" from the Ramakien, was quite successful. “Prommas" was staged again in 2009, after which Her Majesty commanded that new performances be arranged each year. All of these shows were spectacular and impressed the audiences so that there were a great number of requests from the people for organizing the show every year.

Normally, the royal khon performances are performed by leading performers from the Office of Music and Drama at the Fine Arts Department, Ministry Of Culture, Bunditpatanasilpa Institute, and Bangkok College of Dramatic Art. In order to provide the opportunity for young artists from drama schools and institutes to learn about and preserve traditional Thai performing art, the foundation held auditions to find the new generation of performers to join the performance cast. The selected students will get the chance to play the roles of male humans, female humans, monkeys and demons like those professional performers which will be their valuable experiences.

In 2015, the episode of The Battle of Indrajit: Prommas was performed again in response to the request of a large number of audiences. The dancing, singing, and costumes were splendid as usual. However, the settings, created by high-tech special effects, were more stunning than ever. The highlight scenes included the Indra’s Erawan elephant three and a half metres tall, enhanced with special effects to make it look almost real. The elephant can move its three heads, trunks, and necks too. Another highlight was a gold crescent moon three and a half metres in diameter sitting above a large mountain. Though the performance ran for one month, the seats were fully booked far in advance.

Royal Khon Performance 2016 will be performed in the episode of “The Allegiance of Phiphek” during 5 November - 5 December 2016 at the Main Hall, Thailand Cultural Centre. Tickets are available at Thai Ticket Major. Please visit www.thaiticketmajor.com for more information.

If you want to see khon performance but cannot make it to Bangkok during these two months, there is a permanent khon performance of Hanuman episode at Sala Chalermkung Royal Theatre on Charoenkrung Road, Bangkok, Tel. 02 225 8757. The show, running from 19.30 - 21.00 hours, is performed only on Thursday and Friday.




Related Tour Program
Duration
thai dance

Khon Hanuman Thai Masked Dance (Ticket Only), Code S-92
Buy tickets for Khon-Thai Classical Masked Dance at the Sala Chalermkrung Royal Theatre.
Show every Thursday
and Friday
19.30-21.00 hours.

 

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