National Artist Patravadi Mejudhon beams with pride as she talks about her new project, “Saneh … Roi Rao”, which she says was inspired by world-renowned fiddle sensation Kyle Dillingham’s broken violin as well as messages from the young people who make up the population of Baan Kanjanapisek Juvenile Vocational Centre. She describes it as a “concert on tour” and it will run from February 7 until 9 at the newly-created skate park of Vic Hua Hin, her venue for arts and culture for the new generation in the popular seaside resort.
“I don’t know what to call it; it is neither a play nor a musical. It started with songs as I wanted these young people to play music. And after they had improved their musical abilities, this project was the result,” says the 72-year-old dramatic arts guru.
The idea for the project was sparked when Patravadi, the founder and artistic director of Vic Hua Hin Theatre and Performing Arts Centre, attended an art therapy workshop at Chulalongkorn University. She followed up by visiting disadvantaged communities where she learnt firsthand how art therapy could be used to treat children with problems. Her next step was to bring the youngsters from Baan Kanjanapisek and Baan Phra Pradaeng to her show, “Phra Lor” at the National Theatre in 2019.
“I found the young people in Phra Padaeng skateboarding on the street under the Khlong Lad Pho bridge and asked them why they did it given the number of times they hurt themselves in falls. Their answer impressed me: they said, ‘no matter how painful injuries are, we have to get back on the board.’ I asked them about drugs too and they said that if they took drugs, they wouldn’t be able to skateboard. Sport is also a therapy that strengthens body and mind and helps us keep away from drugs,” recalls Patravadi, who is better known Khru Lek.
Khru Lek then visited a boy’s home and offered to fund a skate park with the financial support of Dharma Theatre Foundation under patronage of the Supreme Patriarch. Experts from the centre advised on the design and building and taught the youngsters to plant and care for trees, to keep the venue clean, to collect garbage, and to improve their manners.
She later met with Ticha Na Nakorn, aka Auntie Mon, director of Baan Kanjanapisek, from whom she learnt more about the problems faced by its inmates and designed a therapy programme that combined skateboarding with instruction in music, mainly guitar and drums. Once the youngsters had picked up the rudiments, she took them to busk at Lido Connect.
“These children had lost their way in life and had no discipline. Losing their way doesn’t only mean quarrelling or fighting or even using guns, but also not following through on what they have been taught. For example, they would also be consistently late for everything and neglect their responsibilities,” says Khru Lek.
“Saneh … Roi Rao” evolved from that programme and cleverly combines music with skateboarding. That idea was inspired from Dillingham, the Oklahoma musical ambassador who actually plays the fiddle while on his skateboard.
Patravadi met Dillingham back in 2008 when he brought his show to Thailand. The following year, he was back at her invitation to star in one of her live theatrical musicals. He returned for a third time last year, this time to perform in “Phra Lor”, an adapted theatrical musical production of the popular historical Thai poem “Lilit Phra Lor”.
“Kyle is both a violinist and a skateboarder. He told me that he did well in his studies because he has a good memory. His concentration comes from skateboarding. He broke his violin once but still took it to a show and played it so well that no one noticed. So, I combined Kyle’s broken violin with the broken lives of those children for this concert,” says Khru Lek.
“Saneh … Roi Rao” is scripted from the messages of the young residents of Baan Kanjanapisek scribbled on paper and posted on the wall, Ticha’s own way of therapy. The show is divided into five scenes accompanied by five songs. The first gets underway with performers playing the cajons on the children’s song, “Mang Moom Lai Tua Nan” (“Itsy Bitsy Spider”).
“At first, artist Narinthorn Na Bangchang was set to do the voiceover but later agreed to perform too. She suggest her father, Chor-on, teach the youths to play guitar and he too became part of this concert,” says Khru Lek. “After talking to Auntie Mon, we became aware of the problems these kids have with parents, teachers and people around them. I remember being at Bumrungrad Hospital and hearing a mother threatening her child, who was being overly playful. Threats are often used by Thai parents in raising their kids. I chose this children’s song, because the lyrics are adorable and elementary students at my school love it. By adding rock guitar, it is heavier, like kids are being scolded or threatened.”
The second scene has “Dek Aoey Dek Dee”, another children’s song suggested by composer and enthnomusicologist Anant Narkkong and related to fighting students. “Everybody can sing this song. I wanted to do the concert with songs everybody knows, enjoys and can sing along to ,” says Khru Lek.
The third scene is a story of an inevitable big bike tragedy set to the song, “Nok Khamin” (“Oriole”). Patravadi says that “In fact, it deals with the tragedy of a teenager, who is now on a respirator after a big bike accident. I wanted to talk about this case of the broken-hearted teenager, who got dumped by his girlfriend. When he feels lonely, he needs his mother. But, his mother isn’t there to console him. The mother doesn’t understand why her son behaved like that, especially as she does everything for him. This song can express the feeling of loneliness. But, after being mixed with rock guitar, it also expresses angst. The scene shows many skateboarders going faster and crashing into each other like motorcycles.”
The fourth scene comes together with songs-for-life band Hope’s inspirational song, “Kam Lang Jai”, that keeps everyone motivated and is often sung by the residents of Baan Kanjanapisek,while the soundtrack for the fifth scene is Boyd Kosiyabong’s song “Live and Learn”.
“I don’t want the concert to run for more than an hour. After the show, I would like to talk to those involved, such as Ticha or a child psychologist. It will be a good opportunity for the audience to learn about the problems,” says Patravadi.
After the first shows in Hua Hin, “The Broken Violin” will be performed at the fifth Chet Samian Art Festival at the Chet Samian 119 Years Market in Ratchaburi Province on February 14-15.
“The aim is to take the entire cast to stage the concert in several provinces. However, if the venue is too small, we will reduce the team and if there is nowhere for skateboarding, we will either cut the number of skateboarders or adjust the show. I told all the performers that every place is difference, just like our daily lives. So, we should adapt and do our best for the community or society,” concludes Patravadi.
For more information, call (032) 827814 or visit www.thebrokenviolin.com, Facebook: The Broken Violin Project and Line @vichuahin. Tickets are available at www.ticketmelon.com/brokenviolin.