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Artist’s Talk: The Grand Balcony

Date : 19 Oct 2019

Time : 16.30 - 17.30

Where : BACC, Room 502

Duration : 1h

Representing : Myanmar



Ruth Pongstaphone, director of The Grand Balcony (Myanmar) New Yangon Theatre Institute

Moderator: Lalita Harnwong

Break through the cultural barriers with The Grand Balcony, a performance that adapts Western theatre to drive the arts and education for Burmese youth, featuring actors from the New Yangon Theatre Institute. Learn more about the theatre scenes and social and political issues in Myanmar through the expert eyes of Lalita Harnwong, professor in the Department of History, Faculty of Social Sciences, Kasetsart University.



Ruth Pongstaphone ผู้กำกับ The Grand Balcony (เมียนมาร์) กลุ่ม New Yangon Theatre Institute

Moderator: อ.ลลิตา หาญวงศ์

ก้าวข้ามกำแพงและขีดจำกัดของวัฒนธรรมไปกับ The Grand Balcony การแสดงโดยผู้กำกับที่เรียนรู้ศิลปะการแสดงจากสหรัฐอเมริกา ประยุกต์ละครตะวันตกในการขับเคลื่อนศิลปะ และการศึกษากับเยาวชนเมียนมาร์ โดยใช้นักแสดงจาก the New Yangon Theatre Institute และรู้จักกับภาวะสังคมการเมืองและ theatre scene ในเมียนม่าร์ ผ่านสายตาโมเดอเรเตอร์ อ.ลลิตา หาญวงษ์ อาจารย์ภาควิชาประวัติศาสตร์ คณะสังคมศาสตร์ มหาวิทยาลัยเกษตรศาสตร์ ผู้เชี่ยวชาญประวัติศาสตร์การเมืองเมียนมาร์


About the Speakers

Ruth Pongstaphone

is a Southeast Asian theatre maker (playwright, director and designer), social researcher, and professor of applied theatre for social change. She is the co-founder and executive director of the New Yangon Theatre Institute (NYTI) in Yangon (2008) and program director for Dhamma Theatre West Inc, a New York based non-profit (2006). Independently, since 1998 she has created, directed, and produced educational programs and original theatre works in Myanmar, Germany, Thailand, and the United States at diverse venues including, the United Nations (Bangkok), Park Avenue Armory (New York), Shan Literature and Culture Association (Taungyyi), and Stadtheatre Hildburghausen (Thuringia), among others. Her works have received support from non-government organizations and cultural institutions including, the UNESCAP (Bangkok) and the Institute Francais de Birmanie (Yangon). As a playwright and director, Ruth’s work is as diverse and varied as the perspectives, locations, and communities in which she collaborates. Her style is one of adaptation to context. She uses pre-existing plays and real events as starting points for developing new works that are location, performer, community, and audience specific. The core of Ruth’s work centers around making and teaching theatre making as a vehicle for initiating meaningful public dialogue about critical issues and social change. She works with actors and non-actors to generate original works of contemporary theatre that bring unique and underrepresented perspectives to the stage as communal public experiences. In combination with her theatre making endeavors, Ruth works as an independent researcher, as well as, a guest lecturer and educational consultant for academic institutions and private educational programs. Recently, she has lectured and taught in the USA at Scripps College, Trinity College, Hampshire College, and in Myanamr at Theik Khar Myanmar Institute, Chin Institute for Social Science, and Myanmar Journalism Institute. In 2018 she lead the Workshop for Change in the interdiscplinary Envirolab Asia program at Claremont McKenna College. She is a member and facilitator in the Asian TYA Network.

Ruth began her work in theatre as a designer in the Unites States (1995-2009) at venues including Broadway, American Repertory Theatre, Lincoln Center, and (BAM) Brooklyn Academy of Music. In Thailand, she worked as production and costume designer with Patravadi Medjhudhon (2001-2016). She taught directing and design at New York University (2001-2008). She received an Obie Award for her design work in New York (2001). She holds a Masters degree in Educational Leadership. Ruth is most grateful to her mentor, Manuel Lutgenhorst and her partner, Robert Woodruff for their ethical guidance and artistic inspiration.

Artist Statement “Theatre is a laboratory for me. I like to use a play as a question that opens a thousand new questions for performers and audiences. I choose unfamiliar and foreign material because it challenges what we think we know, exposes our fears, and opens avenues for thought in new directions. I make theatre because it brings people together to experience new thoughts and discuss them in the open. I think that theatre is a key to our social evolution.”


Venue Information

Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC)

Opposite MBK and Siam Discovery, Rama I Rd.

Nearest station:

BTS National Stadium, Exit 3


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