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Chiang Mai Citylife > Articles > 2008 > 2008 Issue 03 > Editorial : March 2008

Editorial : March 2008

All of Thailand may be a stage — to paraphrase and completely butcher Shakespeare’s metaphor — but very few of us are actually players. In fact, the vast majority of US are seated in the pit voyeuristically enjoying the show. We watch the’ actors and actresses, the comedians and clowns, the illusionists and magicians, the good cops and the bad cops as they entertain US from within their insular stage-world.

Acts and action rapidly follow one another, infused with drama, tears, joy, intrigue, cunning…and always more drama; riveting us and teasing us in anticipation of the next act, the next bit of action. From our front row seats, we boo, we clap, we cheer, we throw rotten mangos, and we hiss, yet we are too enthralled to participate or to think beyond the next scandal, the next drama.

This is how I feel each morning when I sit down with my first cup of coffee and eagerly open my daily newspaper. What will today’s news bring? I read the headlines with bated breath.

So as my fellow citizens and I are stuffing our faces with popcorn and watching the shenanigans on stage, powerless to affect the outcome, what are the players up to?

A rogue enters stage left, goes on a shooting spree killing, let’s say, drug dealers, and we hiss…sss. The rogue exits stage right, puts on a wig, changes into a new outfit and returns on stage only to slip on a banana peel. And we are in stitches…haha. After a few more minutes in the dressing room, the actor returns again, this time as a slick Casanova,

promising us treasures and salvation…we sigh, and applaud.

They are such good actors we don’t actually know which of the personalities they portray are really their own and which are a scripted part. Or, on the other hand, are they merely puppets following orders from puppet masters and shadowy influences from behind the scenes? Are we watching a play put on by the actors’ skills and creativity, or are we puppets and muppets — actors and viewers all — having our strings pulled from the powers behind the curtains? These are questions we ask ourselves while half our brain is being amused, entertained, disgusted, shocked and stunned. The critics have been silenced, or have imposed self censorship, so they can’t help US to navigate the complexities and vagaries of the play, or the actors.

The actors tell US that the play is there for us; that we are the raison d’etre for the performance, for the stage, for the production. Yet as we watch magician after magician cunningly disappear with yet another stage prop, and as the stage becomes barren and bare, and actors sluggish and fat, we must wonder what will be left after the actors go home. After this play is done.

OK this metaphor has been stretched beyond its limit, but I can’t help but feel that there is a very small stage on which this country is run and the likes of US will never get behind the curtains or procure a pass to the back of the stage. We will never know how the play is performed, how it is directed, what qualifications the actors have or what the final outcome will be.

While the actors go through their various stages, mewling, puking, whining, sighing, acting out the various stages and dramas of man, it is the rest of US sitting in the pit, rotten mango in hand, who are sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

Citylife this month:

To continue on such chirpy themes, Cindy Tilney’s cover feature on the lack of accountability of the trigger happy Thai police force is a powerful story which will, hopefully, help us all to see that something needs to be done to rehaul this corrupt bureaucracy. Soon. James Austin Farrell has also written a rather frightening feature about the realities of, and fiction surrounding, rabies. Some lighter entertainment pieces include a fascinating and informative look at the history and use of opium worldwide, by Andrew Bond, a travel feature by James, who took a recent trip to Nan, and an interview with German Princess Maja von Hohenzollern, during her recent visit to Chiang Mai.

Winter has gone and it is getting seriously hot, so don’t forget your sun block.