No matter how long I spend in Bangkok, I am constantly discovering new experiences and unknown treasures. One such gem is the Patravadi Theatre. Located on the far banks of the Chao Phraya River, this special theatre serves as a training ground for Thai artists and it also showcases both classical and contemporary work.

The journey to Patravadi.

I first discovered the theatre by accident after getting off the ferry at Wang Lung pier and visiting Siriraj hospital. Afterwards, I decided to explore the network of colourful narrow alleys full of food stalls and small shops that run alongside the river.

At the end of one alley I came across a sign announcing the entrance to the Patravadi Theatre Company and was compelled to investigate. Choosing the right hand path, I found myself in a beautifully ornate Thai-style garden. From June to February, the garden doubles as an open-air theatre, where up to 450 people can enjoy weekend performances. This is Bangkok’s only open-air playhouse and offers a unique experience for people who are looking for cultural entertainment.

In one corner of the garden, a photography gallery displays images of people who have performed at the Patravadi Theatre in the past and stills of their performances. Across the garden is a large restaurant, which offers picturesque views across the river. Known as Studio 9, this Dining Theatre by the River offers entertainment as well as tasty, affordable Thai food.

The history.

The theatre was founded in 1992 by Patravadi Mejudhon, who also serves as the theatre’s artistic director. The main goal of the theatre is to provide Thai artists with training and performance experience and the theatre provides workshops to both professionals and students of the Mahidol Universities. In addition, the theatre’s exchange programme brings directors and choreographers from all over the world to train in Thai classical folk dancing. The site of the Patravadi Theatre was originally home to a school, which was built by Khunying Supatra Singholaka, Patravadi’s mother. The aim of the school was to serve the community and to this day part of the site has been reserved and maintained for this purpose.

A world class mix.

The Patravadi Theatre has developed widely since its creation. Its blend of traditional Thai decoration and culture with the addition of contemporary styles makes it a unique experience. Now, with an extra five art centres located around Thailand, the Patravadi Theatre continues to grow, occasionally playing host to choreographers, directors and designers from around the world.

Not only bound to Bangkok, the Patravadi Theatre has performed on behalf of the Thai Government in cities such as London, Paris, Milan, Frankfurt and Kuala Lumpur.

Don’t miss the experience.

The Patravadi Theatre provides both short and long term visitors as well as residents of Bangkok with a much needed dose of culture. Special performances can be arranged upon request. For details, contact Khun Arunrak on (66) 018431598 or email anurak@patravaditheatre.com. If you are interested in taking part, contact Khun Pang (66) 01855165541 or email school@patravaditheatre.com

No visit to the Patravadi Theatre would be complete without sampling the refreshments at the Patravadi Restaurant. Open daily from 11am-9pm, the restaurant offers relaxing herbal teas and juices, Thai, vegetarian and Italian food and delicious homemade desserts.

By Kirsty Turner.

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