Thai Students Present Culture Through Musical Production at WSU

OGDEN, Utah – The cultures and customs of two countries will collide on stage at Weber State University when underprivileged Thai students present Moradokmai Thai Plays Sept. 21 from 5-7 p.m. in the Shepherd Union Wildcat Theater.

photo courtesy of Nopadon Wongsuwan

Students of the Moradokmai Theatre Community in Pathum Thani, Thailand, study and live at the boarding school dedicated to the arts and to teaching self-reliance.

“These teenagers and young adults, ages 16-22, were left to survive in an environment rife with poverty, narcotics, gambling, video game addiction and materialism,” wrote the school’s principal, Pobchan Leelasartsuntorn in an email. “We encourage them to believe in a new possibility of life through theater, traditional and western music, self-sufficient community and Thai roots.”

The Thai Association of Utah, WSU’s Asian Students Senator Zoë Hall, international Thai students attending WSU and the WSU Office of Access & Diversity collaborated to bring the Moradokmai students to Weber State.

“The Moradokmai Thai Plays are just one of the many culturally diverse experiences Weber State has to offer,” Hall said. “We are lucky to attend a university that hosts events such as this, allowing students to explore cultures and the various qualities of humanism.”

The theater company will perform the play Ramakien, which tells the Thai war epic between Rama, the rightful king of Ayutthaya, and Totsakan, the evil king of the island of Lanka. The interactive play, presented in English, includes a combination of traditional Thai and western music and dance.

Over the years, the group has performed at various locations throughout the United States, including at the Wat Layton Buddhist Temple of Utah in March 2016

photo courtesy of Nopadon Wongsuwan

“Theater gives our students a place to belong and a chance to express themselves, which translates to a glimpse of a better, brighter future,” said Leelasartsuntorn.

Michiko Nakashima-Lizarazo, director of Center for Multicultural Excellence at WSU, hopes hosting the play at WSU will strengthen the relationship with the Thai community and is excited to embrace the rich Thai culture.

“This play supports the university’s mission encouraging freedom of expression and valuing diversity,” said Nakashima-Lizarazo. “We want to promote increased participation and collaboration with various departments that support diverse students at WSU.”

The production is free and open to the public. Donations are encouraged. All proceeds will benefit the Moradokmai Home School.

Visit weber.edu/wsutoday for more news about Weber State University.

Contact:

Michiko Nakashima-Lizarazo, director of the Center for Multicultural Excellence
801-626-7330 • mnakashima@weber.edu

Author:

J. Michaela Funtanilla, Marketing & Communications
385-298-2019 • mkfuntanilla@gmail.com