history of Thai drama has generally been treated as a part
of the study of Thai literature, culture and customs. The
earliest literary references to Thai performing arts appeared
in the stone inscription of Phor Khun Ramkhamhaeng, the third
king of the Sukhothai Kingdom. The monarchy plays an important
role in the development, enrichment and patronization of dramatic
art in Thailand. The golden era of Thai dance was during the
reigns of King Boromakot in the Ayutthaya period and King
Rama II in the Rattanakosin period.
the reign of King Rama VI (King Vajiravudh), classical dance-drama
was influenced by western civilization and culture. He wrote,
produced and directed plays during that period. Modern dance-drama,
'lakhon phut' (spoken drama) and 'lakhon rong' (sung drama)
was introduced as a way to prepare the Thai people for the
dancers hold their bodies upright from the neck to the hips,
moving up and down using only their knees, and stretching
to the rhythm of the music. The arms and hands in Thai dancing
are held in curves at different levels, but do not point like
ballet. The beauty of the dancers depends on how well these
curves and angles are maintained in relation and proportion
to the whole body.
actors mime the story line and lyrics provided by a singer
and chorus off-stage. Traditionally, there are 108 basic movements,
which are different for men and women. In order to perform
well in the dance-drama, dancers have to learn the language
of gestures. Although there are strict patterns of movements
to follow, dancers can still explore their individual talents
as creative artists.
dramas were usually performed for royal entertainment and
on special occasions such as birthdays, welcoming ceremonies,
cremations or simply at the wish of the patron. Various types
of drama were performed, but most popularly the 'khon', 'lakhon'
and 'hun'. Nowadays, many of the older performances have all
but disappeared, like the 'kula ti mai' (the ceremonial baton
dance) or the 'mongkhrum' (the ceremonial drum dance).
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