Q&A With Paitoon Laisakul, 53

Mime Artist and Mime Teacher at Setsatian School for the Deaf
By Gail Piyanan |

Tell us about your job.
I’m a mime artist and founded the mime group, Kon Na Kao, in 1984. I tell stories through acting and without using words. 

What qualifications do you need to become a mime performer?
You don’t need to graduate from any school to be a mime, but if you really want to, you’d better study abroad. Studying mime in Thailand is rather difficult as it requires a freedom of thought and expression. There is no constraint involved. I’m not blaming the educational system; it already speaks for itself. 

Besides acting, what kind of skills do you need for your job?
You need to be smart, meaning you need to be able to think logically, open-mindedly and be able to understand people. Mimes don’t talk. As there are no words, both deaf and normal people can understand them.  

Do you remember your first show?
Erotic Mime (1986) was my first show. It was also the first mime in the world to tell a story about sex. Back then, men and women were much less equal than they are now, and I wanted to portray something about gender inequality. The show was about a woman who went into her brother’s bedroom to clean up, but accidentally found pornographic books. She was upset at first, but her curiosity won out. She started reading them, and suddenly the door was pushed open. She panicked and refused to admit that she had been reading them. But, if equality exists in our society, why would she panic?

What’s the best part of your job?
I get to connect people through the art of mime. 

What’s the hardest part?
We, in Thailand, don’t have public theatres. When searching for sponsors, they always ask me, ‘what will my company get from supporting your show?’ when the question should be, ‘what will society get?’.  I asked for support, not for an exchange of products, and – as a result - had no sponsorship for 30 years.

How does your job make Bangkok a better place?
If there are plenty of shows, civilization will rise. Theatre is where people exchange their thoughts and ideas. In Japan, there are public theatres in every town. In Thailand, there is no space for people to share what they think. Shopping malls can’t get people to share ideas, only their greed. 

Why do you need to paint your face white? 
It’s easier to convey your emotions when storytelling with a white face. It’s like an empty notebook on which you can write anything.

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