'I think his painting hai sati [wakes the consciousness] so that Buddhism can continue its existence."

That's how theatre director Teerawat Mulvilai views Anupong Chantorn's award-winning painting Bhikku Sandan Ka (literally translated as "monks with crow nature"), which sparked controversy in 2007 when protestors demanded that it be removed from the exhibition at Silpakorn University's Sanam Chan Palace campus and its prize reviewed and even rescinded.

The director and B-Floor Theatre co-founder will stage his new creation San-Dan-Ka to celebrate the company's 10th anniversary. Three more productions by other members of the troupe will follow during the year.

Inspired by Anupong's paintings of men in saffron robes and Buddhadasa Bhikku's book Tamra Du Phra (Handbook on how to see monks), which elaborates on different types of bhikkus who break the precepts, Teerawat chose to use Butoh to portray the festered dimension of the spirit.

"I visualised these characters as phantoms and ghosts and I think Butoh can bring out the dark side very well ... I want to be clear that I'm not talking about bad monks in this piece. Those people are not monks to begin with. The show criticises those who dress up like monks," he said.

One of the most politically and socially conscious directors today, Teerawat said he created this performance to critique and awaken the awareness of the state of Buddhism.

"What's the cause of the decline of Buddhism in Thailand? I don't think it's right to blame other religions as a threat to Buddhism. It has to do with the behaviour of monks and Buddhists. And people know why it's in decline, but they can't talk about it because it's one of the most prominent insitutions in Thailand ...

"For a religion to live on, the community and the people have to be able to hold it accountable."

‘San-Dan-Ka’ will be staged from tomorrow until Sunday, February 1 and from February 5 to 8 at
7:30pm at Siam Democrazy Studio (MRT Lumphini, exit 1), Soi Saphan Khu. Tickets cost
300 baht. For more information, call 08-9167-4039

By: AMITHA AMRANAND

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