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The Method, A review of The Safari Bar’s production of “Bar Girl in Love”

  • Written by Steve Rosse
  • February 17th, 2014
  • 5 min read

Pure Bangkok Escorts

With gratitude and apologies to the man who writes under the by-line, “Jason Jason.”

Local theatre-goers could be forgiven for dubbing this a disappointing season after Mr. Nigel Braithwaite’s tepid performance of his self-penned one-man show, “The Feminists Drove Me Out of England,” delivered to
sparse and bored audiences nightly from the end stool at the Long Gun Saloon on Soi Cowboy.

But aficionados can take heart, the Theatre is not dead! As proof I encourage you to hurry down to the Safari Bar and lose yourself in Ms Buapah Prombutr’s nightly luminous and profoundly sympathetic performance of the title role
in “Bar Girl in Love.”

Ms. Prombutr was kind enough to grant an interview in her dressing room backstage at The Safari Bar. “It starts with the script, of course,” she began before I’d even asked a question. “Everything starts with
the words. I’ve worked with my script for years, I could deliver these lines with conviction in my sleep. Sometimes I do just that. The words can’t just be memorized; they have to come from the heart so they resonate in the hearts
of the audience.”

When asked about how she prepares for a role she said, “I’m really into The Method. I’ve read Stanislavski and Adler, and when I prepare for a role I follow their instruction to focus inward and concentrate on my
own feelings, rather than the feelings of my audience. When I am developing a part I try to immerse myself in this character as completely as possible. I ask myself, ‘If I really loved this man, how would I behave? What would I say?
How would it feel to truly love him?’”

Of course, The Method school of acting is not beloved by everybody. Berthold Brecht created his Epic Theatre movement as a response to what he called the “seduction of the audience” by naturalist theatre. He, and a fair
number of the performance art patrons who frequent Bangkok’s Theatre districts (Patpong, Nana, Cowboy) believed that Method acting was inherently dishonest as it coerced the audience to believe in things that do not exist.

“I can see Brecht’s point,” says Ms. Prombutr, “and I don’t ignore technique completely. A successful actress must have a lot of arrows in her quiver. To be honest, I could cry on cue by the time I was
thirteen. I can fly into a rage one minute and be laughing hysterically the next, like flipping a switch. And I take a lot of care with my makeup and wardrobe, of course, spending hours in front of the mirror preparing for a performance.”

“But even Laurence Olivier and Vivian Leigh, who both despised The Method, began their famous romance on stage. You make love to somebody in front of a thousand people, seven times a week, for years on end. Newspapers write about
your great on-stage love affair, and they will only interview the two actors as a couple. Everybody wants to believe you’re really in love. Your on-stage life becomes bigger and more important than your “real” life, it
takes over your psyche. Of course the lines between on-stage and off-stage become blurred. Both Leigh and Olivier were married when they were cast as young lovers, but “real” love can’t hold a candle to the kind of love
that sells out theatres for years on end.”

Theatre is a collaborative art form, not just between the artists on stage but between the actor and her audience. Ms. Prombutr is an expert when it comes to reading the feedback from her audience. The senior citizens at the “blue-haired
matinee” on Sunday will react to a line differently than the young, hip crowd who comes out on a Saturday night. Ms. Prombutr has a keen sensitivity to the reactions her speeches and blocking have on an audience, and can tailor a line
reading to each individual listener.

And Ms. Prombutr accomplishes all this in spite of some of the worst technical efforts this reviewer has seen in 40 years in the Theatre. The Safari Bar is cramped and the seating uncomfortable. The set decoration is tacky and out of
date, without a hint of irony. The sound system, far from supporting the performance, is a distraction. The lighting is dim and frankly, the whole building smells bad and is in a sketchy part of town. Yet Ms. Prombutr breaks through these
barriers as a lotus sprouts in the mud and rises through murky water to finally burst forth in sunlight.

Her delivery of the “My mother is sick” speech, words as familiar to the audience as “To be or not to be,” is flawless, without a sour note or missed beat in the whole monologue. Her ability to wring fresh
pathos from the shopworn trope is artistry of the highest caliber.

When she gets up on stage for the dance number that opens the second act, undulating soulfully and sinuously in only the costume she was born in, under a spotlight that illuminates the most intimate, most hidden features of her body,
there isn’t a dry handkerchief in the house.

When asked if she thought her success in this role would type cast her, she replied, “I hope not. I am grateful for the attention this role has earned me, and for the chance to hone my instrument. But some day I’d like to
be cast as a shop girl, or maybe a hairdresser. I think there is a whole world of interesting roles I could play, given the chance.”

The Safari Bar’s production of “Bar Girl in Love” is enjoying tremendous success and is currently scheduled for an open-ended run. Tickets are available at any Thai Airways office.

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