Goodbye Democrazy: Edgy Small Theatre Calls it Quits

Photo: Democrazy Theatre Studio / Facebook

BANGKOK — It’s curtains for a provocative performing arts space that will leave its space near Lumphini Park forever come April.

Known for staging politically charged shows and contemporary performances, Democrazy Theatre Studio says there will be no more shows, capping its run of about 70 productions held there during the past decade.

While Democrazy announced online last night that it is moving on to “adjust to the company’s direction,” its co-founder said costs are the major obstacle to keeping the space going.

“We talked about this for two years and our concern are the expenditures,” Pavinee Samakkabutr said, adding that they’ve had to put their own money into covering the company’s budget, in addition to ticket revenue.

In recent years it has hosted plays such as “The Disappearance of the Boy on a Sunday Afternoon,” a provocative 2016 performance about forced disappearances. One week after the 2014 coup, it debuted “Hipster The King,” a satirical contemporary dance performance.

The studio also co-produced “Happy Hunting Ground,” an intercultural play exploring  relationships between Thai women and German men, and how they reflect social norms. Its last show, “Dan Neramit: A Play-Reading,” began a limited run in November.

According to Pavinee, Democrazy will live on in a new space, but nothing has been confirmed yet. Her team, she added, continues developing contemporary performances.

“The existence of art spaces is important, but now we must focus on developing artists and producing works,” she said.

With the Culture Ministry directing resources mainly to traditional theatre, Democrazy – which never shies from addressing taboo topics in its experimental performances – is left to fend for itself. However, Pavinee said, winning government support for contemporary art isn’t hopeless.

“It’s not that they completely shut the door in our face, but it takes time for them to understand what we do,” she said.

Democrazy Theatre Studio was co-founded by Pavinee and Thanapol Virulhakul. The black box theatre occupying two shophouses in Soi Saphan Khu off Rama IV Road opened in 2008 with seating for 60.