Out in The City

 |  October 26, 2011

It’s easy to get down. Open your newspaper, watch the TV news, log onto the interweb, it’s all depressing. Monetary mayhem, weird weather, chaos, conflict, gloom, doom and death all assault our senses every day. It is time to warm the cockles, lift the heart, spread a smile and restore a little faith in our fellow beings. Find a story that bucks the trend; but where to search? Look no further than this humble column within the pages of your very own Citylife magazine.

The story starts in Khon Kaen, Isaan. Nearly thirty years ago, a boy was born to a modest family, eking out a tough existence from the land. The joy at this new arrival was soon dashed with disappointment. This youngster, Bon, was found to be profoundly deaf and all the potential promised by this new addition to the family evaporated. Bon was a bright boy with secret dreams but his father believed that he had no future. His fate was to toil in the rice fields; his father said, “He’s good for nothing more.”

Bon had other ideas. The glowing television screen in the family home transfixed his bright young eyes. Whenever he saw glamorous figures dancing, a flame of ambition was fanned and a fire burned within. He would become a dancer. The thought that this goal was impossible for someone who could not hear the music did not occur to him and when he let his dream be known, he ignored all the discouraging advice and became even more determined to fulfil his objective.

The years rolled by but Bon never gave up hope. He learned of a place in Chiang Mai that was committed to developing young talent and so he found himself at the Playhouse Complex, Chang Puek. Sitting silently in the auditorium, he was dazzled by the show and before he knew what was happening to him, he had embarked on the arduous training provided by the Playhouse Performance Arts Academy. That led to an audition to join the all male cast. He passed. Fellow dancers offstage counted him in with precise gestures and on cue, he found himself in the spotlights before an audience oblivious to the marvel they were witnessing. A miraculous metronome kept time in Bon’s head and his performance was flawless. His heart soared when he saw their silent applause.

It’s hard to know if his family really believed the news of Bon’s success but they were soon in Chiang Mai to see the show. There was a dramatic flurry of activity in the family group as he took to the stage and one of Bon’s sisters was on her feet and dashing for the door. She returned with a small box of tissues provided by a thoughtful Playhouse staffer and a father dabbed glistening tears from his proud and smiling face. There’s plenty of good news if you know where to go.

James Barnes is editor-in-chief of OUT in Thailand Magazine.