The first-ever Thai adaptation of a 1923 Czech anti-war novel will be coming to a stage near you at Chulalongkorn University this coming week, as part of the Czech Arts and Culture Week.
Itinerary for "A (not so) Good Evening with the (not so) Good Soldier Švejk (See larger image)
Thailand’s premiere avant-garde theater troupe, B-Floor, will perform an adaptation of the anti-war, absurdist novel The Good Soldier Švejk (1923) by Jaroslav Hašek. The adaptation, “A (not so) Good Evening with the (not so) Good Soldier Švejk” has been written by Chulalongkorn University’s Verita Sriratana, the event coordinator for the entire Czech Arts and Culture Week, and directed by B-Floor’s Sasapin Siriwanij. The troupe’s Sirameth Akkarapakulseth will play Švejk, and Thanakorn Thipayametrakul the supporting roles.
Sirameth Akkarapakulseth and Thanakorn Thipayametrakul play in "A (not so) Good Evening with the (not so) Good Soldier Švejk"
Verita hopes that the novel’s core messages, in a mixed-media, adapted stage form, will find meaning with the current Thai audience and the local political climate. The absurdity of following orders and authoritarianism resonates not only with early 20th century Czechoslovakia and the Austro-Hungarian Army, she says, but also with post-2014 Thailand and another well-known army.
In Central Europe during World War I , explains Verita, the Austro-Hungarian Empire ruled Czechoslovakia, so Czechs were conscripted into the Austro-Hungarian army. Being compelled to fight in a foreign occupier’s wars compelled anti-war sentiment, especially from a country considered to be “stuck in the coatroom,” waiting for the big players to decide the rest of the world’s fate at the “negotiating table.”
Sirameth Akkarapakulseth as Švejk
“The title character, the soldier Švejk, is as beloved to Czechs as Doraemon is to Thais,” says Verita. Švejk is an everyman who, although powerless under authority, uses his trademark double-talk as an ambiguous form of undermining authority. One can’t really tell if the character is pushing authority’s buttons, or if he really is an idiot when he follows orders in such a pedantic way.
Come and get to know the one-and-only “Thai Švejk” on 18 February!
Admission to “A (not so) Good Evening with the (not so) Good Soldier Švejk” is free, and is on the 9th Floor of the Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Building, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University on Thursday, 18 February 2016.
The Czech Arts and Culture Week, organized by the Chulalongkorn University-Visegrád Collaboration Project (CU-V4) and the university’s Centre for European Studies and in collaboration with the university’s Faculty of Arts and the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Bangkok, will last from 15 February until 19 February, with events all week. See their Facebook page for details on all of the events.