Royal Albert Hall, London 18th June 2015
©Spencer Lloyd Peet
“130 years after staging a spectacular performance at the Royal Albert Hall and then at Osborne for a Royal Command Performance for Her Imperial Majesty Queen Victoria, a Thai cultural performance will again return to the Royal Albert Hall” (General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand)
On the 18th June, the prestigious London venue the Royal Albert Hall in association with the Ministry of Culture hosted the spectacular show Khon: Epic Performance From Thailand to mark the 160th Anniversary of Thai-UK diplomatic relations and the 130th Anniversary of the classical music ensemble of Siam (the old name of Thailand) performed at the legendary venue, and it also served as a celebration of the 60th birthday anniversary of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. With a cast of almost 100 performers the production was very impressive and a wonderful example of traditional Thai culture.
I was given permission to attend and photograph the afternoon rehearsal and the actual stage performance. It was a great privilege to have been able to see the talented dancers/actors hard at work.
Here’s just a a small selection of photos I took including some from the press photo shoot shortly before the performance began.
Khon: Exquisite Masked Dance Drama of Thailand
Khon, the grand masked dance drama created for the Divine King, with scenes from the Ramakien, the Thai version of the ancient Hindu epic Ramayana. Khon combines several art forms: drama, music, painting and sculpture, and crafts. Together they create a complex elegant performance, a uniquely Thai art.
Khon was original performed exclusively at the court, organised for significant royal functions. Although still mainly a regal function, in the reign of King Mongkut (Rama IV, r. 1851 – 1868) other royals and high-ranking officials were allowed to stage Khon performances. King Vajiravudh (Rama VI, r. 1910 – 1925) established the Department of Entertainments within the Ministry of the Palace to organise Khon performances. Today the Fine Arts Department of the Ministry of Culture is responsible for royal Khon performances, with the Department’s Bunditpatanasilpa Institute providing training in Khon and related arts.
(Taken from the official Khon: Epic Performance From Thailand programme.)