Building Creative Communities: PETA’s theater for advocacy work in Mekong

“Alongside centuries of cross-cultural interaction among the peoples in the Greater Mekong Subregion, there were conflicts and diseases that caused social disintegration. There were economic activities that created wealth and modernity as much as isolation and poverty.”

Building Creative Communities: PETA’S Theater for Advocacy Work in Mekong compiles the experiences of Mekong creative communities in addressing gender and sexuality issues. It tackles the spread of virulent diseases, particularly HIV/AIDS, and how the subregion’s cultural strenghts are harnessed in a bid to curb them.

The 246-page book summarizes the five-year work of the PETA Mekong Partnership Program, which in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation, facilitated inspiring encounters with Mekong artists and groups in the Greater Mekong Subregion.

It serves as a documentation of the experiences of artists and groups who joined the annual Mekong Performing Arts Laboratory conducted from 2005 to 2010.

Lea Espallardo’s article provides an overall view of the Mekong Performing Arts Laboratory, including the difficulties encountered and the realization of the program’s aim of linking Mekong artists during and beyond the Laboratories.

Vannaphone Sitthirath and Rowena Basco-Sugay chronicle the experiences of theater groups in Laos , Thailand and Vietnam as they transform the stage into an arena for creative education on the issues of gender, sexuality and HIV/AIDS using various art forms.

Johanna Son’s article tells how Cambodia ’s Phare Ponleu Selpak captivates the audience as its young members perform circus tricks to convey pressing social messages.

Narumol Thammapruksa’s article on the play entitled Mong shows how two artists of different cultural backgrounds jointly create a play, and transcend the cultural barriers to put across the same message to different audiences.

The Butterfly series, another article by Narumol Thammapruksa, tells the use of modernized shadow theater by The Wandering Moon Performing Troupe and Endless Journey in encouraging the public to think about the right of women to their own sexual pleasure.

Pornrat Damrhung’s article provides the first assessment of the Mekong Program and its pivotal role in transforming the Mekong creative spaces into an arena for social advocacy.

The final article written by Rowena Basco-Sugay and Beng Santos-Cabangon gives a more formal and comprehensive assessment of the Mekong Program based on a set of indicators.

Most articles tackle how the art groups were formed or how the plays were conceptualized and created. They reveal the sense of mission of many of the artists and how their efforts paid off.

The book is now available and can be ordered at

About Peta Mekong

Mobilizing the arts community for advocacy in the Greater Mekong Subregion

Posted on August 9, 2011, in News & Events and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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