The company set out for Napo village some weeks later, consisting of 3 vans, 15 performers, 2 directors, a drummer, stage manager and a truck load of donations for the community.
Six hours later, on arrival, we saw our performance space for the first time; a narrow strip of village street outside Khun Pira’s village school. The company considered various ways of using the space and set a 5pm call. We arrived to find the villagers had already been waiting since 4pm. They witnessed the creation of the space from scratch, which allowed us to think about how this could work to our advantage in our communication with the audience. The audience became more and more excited and vocal as we set out drum kit, bird frame, cloth, flame torches and night lighters. The experience of creating the performance space was as interesting as the performance itself.
Dusk fell and the night lights created a magical world. Our physical performance was highly interactive and we used young, old and middle aged alike. Khun Pira remarked on the unusual nature of this. The Thai community here was not predisposed to join in in this way. The material spoke to them in its simplicity and relativity.
A rural community of animals and humans comes together to protect one another under threat from an unnamed hunter. A newly hatched bird repays the villagers kindness by warning them of the sudden return of the hunter. She believes she has succeeded in scaring the hunter away without violence, but the hunter returns and shoots the bird. She is tended by the villagers who mourn her, but she finally recovers and the community celebrates. They find new ways to protect each other from the hunter’s return.
The common enemy is the oppressing force of the hunter. The Napo villagers saw our oversized puppet Hunter as a landlord, the cause of so much financial misery, as a representative of the feudal system in rural Thailand, as a physical embodiment of the imposing government laws that don’t protect them. They also saw Hunter as a representation of the prostitution rackets of Bangkok that lure their financially desperate young women and men away. The tale is about coming together against a common enemy, which echoed the whole nature of the Khun Pira’s Napo Village Project. The villagers cheered the outcome because the community flourishes against its oppressor. It is as simple as that.