Scene4 Magazine: Mae Nak Pra-the musical - Janine Yasovant

by Janine Yasovant

คลิกเพื่ออ่านบทความนี้ เป็นภาษาไทย

Somebody said that love after death is "Eternal love." And so says "Mae Nak," the famous Thai ghost story which was finally adapted to the stage for the first time in 2009. The story of Mae Nak was already adapted for film and TV drama.It is the love story of Mae Nak, the renowned ghost from 200 years ago, who frightened as well as amused audiences.  It's a rather tragic story of a pregnant woman who waited for Nai Mak, her husband, who was drafted and sent off to war.  She died during childbirth in the area near Pra Kanong canal in Bangkok. But love caused Mae Nak to wait for the return of her husband, although she was a spirit. The villagers knew about the existence of her spirit which appeared on many occasions They hired an exorcist to capture and destroy the spirit but he failed. No one dared to tell the truth to the husband, Nai Mak, who experienced strange occurrences in the house after his return from war. He only saw his wife doing normal things such as cooking and taking care of her son.  It was shocking mystery.


The use of appropriate costume for women in ancient times can convince an audience to believe that this story happened in Thailand many years ago. The dress for women used special colors. There were Sabai and cloth to wear on upper body only one side and cover the chest. They used the Jong Kraben to wear like a sarong. This typical dress became obsolete after western culture came to Asia. 

Many people are curious whether the story of Mae Nak is true or just a tale. Some of have tried to research and investigate the area of the Mahabutr canal. Some people built statues there to pay homage to Mae Nak. And exorcists have performed rituals to capture and control her spirit.

Nevertheless, from 1952 to the present, over 25 films of Mae Nak Pra Kanong  have been produced. It's a classic plot-story. The famous chase scene between human and ghost is quite amusing and horrific at the same time. The love of Mae Nak for her husband can still impress audiences. In addition, the story of Mae Nak was produced for television many times in Thailand.

Lullaby from Mae Naak is a 2003 opera by Thai composer Somtow Sucharitkul to an English libretto based on the story. The opera's title role was created by Hong Kong born soprano Nancy Yuen who reprised the role in a 2005 production at the Thailand Cultural Center, directed by Henry Akina, artistic director of the Hawaii Opera Theatre. Both productions were designed by prominent Thai avant-garde artist Sumet Jumsai.

In 2009, Nat Myria Benedetti, a famous Thai actress and singer, returns to the theatre again. Last time she played as Michelle from Fah Jrod Sai the musical at Muang Thai Ratchadalai Theatre. This time she plays a  different role. as the desperate ghost.


The stage productioin recreates the scene at the Pra Kanong canal of 200 years ago with the big moon and ancient Thai house. It's what the director Takolkiet Weerawan wanted to make it happen for more than 20 years.


Finally his dream comes true.  


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Click Here for this article in Thai 
คลิกเพื่ออ่านบทความนี้ เป็นภาษาไทย

©2009 Janine Yasovant
©2009 Publication Scene4 Magazine

Scene4 Magazine: Janine Yasovant
Janine Yasovant is a writer in Chiang Mai, Thailand
and a writer for Scene4.

For more of her commentary and articles, check the Archives


Scene4 Magazine-inSight

June 2009


June 2009

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