I love theatre! I believe in theatre! I believe live theatre is healthy stuff for everyone… still today… even in our modern world where we are bombarded continually with TV series, movies and screens of all sorts, offering us a plethora of theatrical, semi-theatrical or pseudo-theatrical fare. Don’t get me wrong. I love good movies and TV series, but there is nothing that does it for me like a good live play, and I don’t think we have enough live theatre in Phuket.
I have heard a number of people say the same, so let’s do something about it. I, for one, am here to promote this on our island, and it is my goal to see good theatre of all genres and for all ages thrive here on our tropical urban island. Are you with me? I hope so, because if we work together, I believe we can get something good or great going. Angus Bowmer did it, why not us? More about him later.
Who am I, anyway? I’m Joel Adams and I’ve lived in Phuket now for four years. I founded a close-knit but loosely organised family of theatre lovers dubbed Theatrix Group, and we’ve done what we could to contribute to the theatre scene here. Our shows include The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), Romeo and Juliet, improv shows, three interactive murder mystery dinner theatre shows and one evening of short love comedies.
Theatrix has also taught acting, improv and playwriting classes to all ages from six to 60 in various venues and establishments around the island.
Why do I do it? What motivates me? I can’t help it. I have to. I was shaped this way by two notable incidents in my youth.
I was five. It was a first grade play. I was ‘Fourth Bird’ with a bird beak hat made from crepe paper on my head, and I had a four-line poem to quote. Being the youngest and smallest, I was also the cutest. I belted out my poem. The audience roared with laughter.
“Hey!”, my little mind thought, “That was cool.” So I said it again, and they roared again. “Well, if two was good, three will be even better”, and I started to say it again, but my teacher quietly took me by the hand and led me off. But not fast enough to prevent me from being stage-struck forever after.
Skip ahead to sixth grade. One day I came home from school, and for some reason the TV was on, tuned to a station we never watched, University of Houston educational TV. The picture was black and white and grainy, but the sound was clear. What was playing was the university’s production of Romeo and Juliet. I dropped my books and lay down on the floor, only to be mesmerised for the next two hours by the immortal ‘star-crossed lovers’. I was 10 years old, mind you, and did not understand half of what was being said, but I got the story; I was transfixed, I rejoiced and agonised and was shocked and left speechless by the story till its final, tragic moments.
I’m not sure I cried, but I knew that something beautiful, something meaningful had just happened to me, and I knew that no movie or TV show I had ever seen or would ever see could do to me what had just been done. I had been touched deeply and I wanted nothing more than to be able to touch others like that. I won’t tell you how long ago that was, but it was several decades and that love for theatre and what theatre can do has never faded, not for a moment.
I, for one, don’t want to see children, born into a world of screens and social media, being deprived of the thrill of live theatre. More next time about what we get from live theatre that drama and comedy on screens can never give.
But in closing now, back to Angus Bowmer, one of my greatest inspirations.
Mr Bowmer was an unknown Oregon English teacher in 1935 when he persuaded the town council of Ashland to add Shakespeare plays to their July 4th (American Independence Day) celebrations. He gathered a group of amateurs to perform the plays, they were well-received and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland (OSF), Oregon, was launched. Today, 83 years later, OSF is a world-renowned professional resident theatre and the biggest festival of its kind in the US.
It produces 11 plays a year, from three to five Shakespeare plays, and the rest by other playwrights, both modern and classical. OSF has now performed Shakespeare’s complete canon of 37 plays four times, and has received over 20 million visitors from all over the world.
‘The moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too… Whatever you can do or dream, you can begin it, boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.’ - Goethe
Joel Adams is building a vibrant theatre community right here in Phuket. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 093 6490066. Facebook: Theatrix Group