Manusya, Journal of Humanities

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Thailand's financial collapse and new constitution in 1997 brought issues of commercialization, education reform, and decentralization to the forefront of arts and culture. The paper focuses on three aspects of the current situation of the traditional arts and artists in Thailand. First, the commercialized globalization of the arts has prompted some artists to create drama companies and theatre events woven through with Western themes and contemporary forms, but grounded in traditional Thai performance. Second, the new emphasis on arts education by Thailand's recent educational reforms has prompted the creation of new arts education programs that train local artists to adapt themselves to a changing world. Thirdly, some artists trained in traditional techniques, like Pradit Prasartthong and Pichet Klunchuen, work on intercultural projects within and outside Thailand, bringing in new approaches to presenting their work in storytelling and choreography, and new modes of teaching. These three aspects point to the array of ways that artists can use traditional arts in the contemporary scene and make rigid forms of traditional arts more flexible and exciting for today's audiences. These trends and pilot projects make greater use of traditional knowledge for today's communities, and better reflect the interests of these communities. They provide the groundwork of a new movement in Thai performance that can create new opportunities for traditional performers and performance.

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