Exciting new opportunities for performing artists
The competition for talent in Chiang Mai got a little more heated following the addition of an ambitious new theatre company, The Actor Factory. We took a moment to ask artistic director Rick Pokrajen-Harmon about his vision for this new company.
When asked why Chiang Mai needs a new theater company Rick, responded “Can there ever be too much art in a community?” He chuckled and continued “There is good theater being done in Chiang Mai already, to be sure. But I keep hearing the same questions from theater-goers: ‘When are you guys going to do something funny?,’ ‘Why don’t you ever do musicals?’ ‘Why are all the plays done here so dark and serious?’ There is a big, unfulfilled demand for light entertainment. We have created a social club that intends to fill that gap.”
“What’s more, there is more to entertainment than theatre. That may be surprising to hear coming from an actor and director with nearly 40 years in the theatre, but it is true. The Actor Factory is also going to provide a venue for the voices of comics, poets, monologists and other performance artists.”
Ambitious plans, indeed. One wonders if there are enough experienced performers in Chiang Mai to pull it off. When asked about this, Rick replied, “There is a shortage of experienced actors—that is one reason why big cast comedies and musicals are not being produced. A stage drama of average quality can still be compelling, but a mediocre comedy is a big yawn. And a musical that is just so-so? Absolutely deadly. We, that is, all of us producing theatre in Chiang Mai, need more trained performers. And The Actor Factory wants to help provide that training. Factory is part of our name, after all. We are going to build new actors and help existing actors to grow. Acting classes and hands-on technical theater internships are part of our mission.”
“But we’re flexible and nimble, too. Here’s a good example of what can be accomplished with a little courage and a lot of work. I recently cast a newcomer named Beverly Weber in our upcoming show The Pirates of Chemo by Paul Schutte. Back home in the States it would be unheard of to put an untested rookie in a major role. It’s just too risky and there are always dozens or even hundreds of other choices when it comes to actors.”
“Here, my choices were much more limited. And Beverly had something about her, besides her obvious raw talent. She has a certain spark, a zest that I thought would serve her well on stage. There was no time for her to complete any coursework, so I just took a chance on her. We’re still in rehearsal, so I haven’t seen yet what she will eventually bring to her performance, but what I have seen so far is quite promising.”
“And we need dozens more like her, both for roles on-stage and behind the scenes. We need folks to build sets, buy props, sew costumes, design posters, write press releases, code websites, the list is nearly endless. Making art is a lot harder than most folks think. We’d love to have some of your readers come help us make the magic happen.”
Rick’s energy and enthusiasm are quite apparent. While he’s tasked himself and his colleagues with a daunting challenge, we believe they can pull it off.
Those who are interested in volunteering for a show or taking theater classes can sign up for The Actor Factory’s mailing list at www.theactorfactorycm.com/subscribe or by emailing [email protected]. The Actor Factory’s first show is The Pirates of Chemo by Paul Schutte, running September 13, 14, 20 and 21 at The Villa Virtuosa Theater. Show time is 7 pm, with an additional VIP dessert matinee at 2:00 pm on the 14th. Tickets are 400 baht (VIP dessert matinee is 600 baht) available by emailing [email protected].
For more information about The Actor Factory and its upcoming production of The Pirates of Chemo: