Bangkok Stage to Echo Pain of ‘Comfort Women’

Photo: Peel the Limelight / Courtesy

BANGKOK — The brutal history of girls and women forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army is coming to a Bangkok stage.

“Hollow,” to be staged by English-language theatre crew Peel the Limelight, will features 10 actors to tell the stories of thousands of “comfort women” before and during World War II. The work is inspired by survivors’ testimonies and documentary evidence.

The 10 performers are Valerie Bentson, Wisarut Homhuan, Panuwat Inthawat, Thanabodee Kodchapokee, James Laver, Siree Riewpaiboon, Neil Anthony Rusia, Claire Stanley, Ariya Theprangsimankul and Varratha Tongyoo. The show’s dramaturge is Peter O’Neil.

“‘Hollow’ was our working title, but as we continued, it became the name of the piece because so much of the victims experiences were hollow. Vacant, void, without, empty,” O’Neil said. “Sadly, the women who managed to survive ended up hollow – shamed by society and essentially forced to live empty lives – hollow lives.”

According to the American director, the issue remains relevant today despite occurring more than half a century ago.

“How long has it taken for all women to be heard?” O’Neil said, referring to the #MeToo movement as an example. “How long for apologies? How long for justice? The surviving victims are still waiting.”

Tickets are available online for 700 baht. Discounts are available to studio members and students.

The play will be performed in English and with Thai surtitles. It opens at 8pm on Aug. 3, then takes place at 8pm every Friday and Saturday through Aug. 25 at Peel the Limelight Studio in Soi Sukhumvit 23. It can be reached via BTS Asok or MRT Sukhumvit.

A promotional image for ‘Hollow,’ a stage performance by company Peel the Limelight. Photo: Peel the Limelight / Courtesy