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Founding Department of Dramatic Arts

In 1962, Assoc. Prof. Sodsai Pantoomkomol finished her master’s degree and returned to Thailand to become a lecturer in Department of English, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University. While teaching English, she designed a dramatic arts program. Although the program focuses on western theatre, she also integrates Thai dance and Thai theatre so students may have wide knowledge of both western and eastern theatre.

Akhom Sayakhom and Chamriang Puttapradap helped overseeing Thai theatre curriculums while Mr. Edward Hearn, her advisor from UCLA helped supervising western theatre curriculums. Once Prince Pream approved, the program curriculum was sent to the Ministry of Education to be approved. Assoc. Prof. Sodsai Pantoomkomol had to explained that the program is different from Thai dance school with its focus on western theatre.

 

Once the program had been approved, Prince Prem set up the department under Department of Foreign Languages, not as an independent department due to circumstances. In the beginning, Assoc. Prof. Sodsai Pantoomkomol taught almost every subject herself with help from special lecturers. However, there were only few students due to the department being new and people not understanding the use of theatre education.

The first play Assoc. Prof. Sodsai Pantoomkomol directed was The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde in 1964. Then there was no theatre at Faculty of Arts. Poonsap Noppawong allowed the play to be performed at Faculty of Education. The success of the play led to many more productions which Assoc. Prof. Sodsai Pantoomkomol adapted or wrote herself.

 

Assoc. Prof. Sodsai Pantoomkomol wrote that back then we had no theatre and had to live as pauper, like a traveling troop moving from theatre to theatre, performing at AUA’s auditorium, at the small theatre of the National Theatre, or on the second floor of Chulalongkorn’s auditorium. Once Faculty of Commerce and Accountancy moved from a two-storey building across Arksornsart 2 Building, the department then used Room 60 as rehearsal room and performance space. This building was named Arksornsart 3. Once Building 4 was built behind Building 3, the theatre was moved from room 60 to the top floor of Building 4, as the department’s second theatre.

 

In 1971, Department of Dramatic Arts was officially founded as the first educational institution in Thailand to teach dramatic arts, covering literature, theories, acting, directing, writing, voice and body in performance, designing, performance management, and stage management.

 

 

The curriculum of Department of Dramatic Arts, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University, designed by Assoc. Prof. Sodsai Pantoomkomol, serves as a role model for other theatre and acting program in other institutions. Additionally, theatre activities that Assoc. Prof. Sodsai Pantoomkomol continuously supported are an ideal platform for theatre students and students from other faculties or other university to practice their skills, for lecturers to present their creative work, and most importantly to serve as a role model for world’s standard theatre, educating general public and those who wish to study this area on world class theatre, building aesthetics, taste, vision and knowledge about modern theatre to Thai society, improving the people’s lives, improving the entertainment business, and to develop Thailand as well.

 

Although she has retired, Assoc. Prof. Sodsai Pantoomkomol still gives consults and supports to develop Master of Arts in Theatre program. She also gives lectures as special lecturer of speaker for the department.