Chet Samien Arts Festival

Ordinarily, we restrict our beat to Hua Hin, Cha-am, and the surrounding communities. But in this case, we’re going to make an exception.

The Chet Samien Arts Festival promises to be an exceptional event and all the more notable for its location in a small community in Ratchaburi Province. Tambon Chet Samien is located on the Mae Klong River, just a couple of kilometers off of Route 4 (Petkasem Road) in Photaram District.  According to Google Maps, it’s about a 2-hour drive from Hua Hin, straight up Route 4/Petkasem. The turnoff is Route 3238/Chet Samien. Chet Samien lies on the train line to Bangkok from Hua Hin, making travel by train another option. (Ask at the station, as not all trains stop at this small station).

For three years now, national award-winning dancer Manop Meejamrat has been running an arts center there called Suan Silp Baan Din (trans. ‘Earth House Arts Center’) that offers classes in performing arts for local youngsters,. Some of the students have already been seen performing at  the Vic Hua Hin. (Did you catch ‘Eclipse‘? You should have!)

On the last weekend of every month, Khun Manop (aka Kru Nai), his fellow teachers, and students have been organizing the All About Arts festival at the Chet Samien town center. Now he’s going after bigger fish with a full-fledged arts festival running over seven weekends, 27 November until 9 January 2011. According to Kru Nai, where the monthly festivals have been mainly an interaction between Suan Silp Baan Din and the Chet Samien community, the Chet Samien Arts Festival is much more of a national showcase.

Special Performances

The festival program consists of a repeating schedule of tours, art exhibitions and sales, demonstrations, and performances, plus special featured events on each Saturday and Sunday evening. Weekly highlights will include:

* Lakhon Chatree, featuring a Sangthong folk story of Look Ranad, by young artists from Phetchaburi, on Saturday December 4 at 7pm;

* Serenade, a ballet by students of Chulalongkorn University’s Fine and Applied Arts faculties, on Saturday December 11 at 7pm;

* Chua Fa Din Salai (Eternity), a drama by Patharawarin Timkul, on Saturday December 18 at 7pm; and

* Contemporary dance in a Lanna-version of Ramayana by Krit Silpboonchai on Saturday December 19 at 7pm.

Additional events will be announced or the remaining Saturdays and Sundays up through January 9, 2011. Performances by the Sincharoen Brothers have been mentioned, along with Western classical music performance by Saowakhon Muangkruan and Friends.

Daily Activities

Daily activities will start each Saturday and Sunday around 2pm

* 2:30 pm film screening at Vic Khru Thawi, followed by a demonstration of the making of pha khao ma [traditional loincloths] and ceramic wares.

*4.30 pm, the scene moves to the train station, as traditional Thai music ensembles take the stage.

Other activities available at this time  include talks by such celebrities as Mae Chee Sansanee Sathirasuta, Phol Tantasathien and Siriyakorn ‘Oom’ Pukkavesa

* 5:30 pm. Performances at Lan Pho in Chet Samien Market.

* 7:00 pm. Special performance of the day, which will move from one venue to another almost every day.

Visitors will also have opportunity to take a bicycle tour and visit a 119-year-old Chet Samian market on the banks of the Mae Klong River, a local ceramic factory, a community loincloth-weaving house, and a number of Chinese radish factories, to get a glimpse of local livelihoods.

Information

All events in the festival have free admission but donations are accepted.  For those who prefer to stay overnight, some 20 rooms are available at Suan Silp Baan Din. Advance reservations are required. For more information, call (032) 397 668 and (081) 818 2542.

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