In the midst of the renowned Asiatique night bazaar, come share the fun and the exquisite cultural experience of the Joe Louis Traditional Thai Puppet Theatre. Thai puppetry, known as hun lakhon lek, is an art form similar to Japanese Bunraku puppetry. A favorite among children, the intricate structure of these puppets allows performances of astonishing realism.
The puppeteers are masters at making their cunning contraptions come alive, as a narrator accompanied by music tells a story usually derived from the Ramakien, the Thai version of the Hindu Ramayana. The Joe Louis Theatre is the only theatre in Thailand putting on regular performances of this wonderful art form.
The art of traditional Thai puppetry was rescued from obscurity and revived in 1985 by the late Master Sakorn Yangkhieosod. He was named a National Treasure for his efforts, and passed on his knowledge of the manipulation and fabrication of these complex puppets to his heirs, who are carrying on his work at the Joe Louis Theatre.
Each puppet, usually almost a meter in height, is controlled by three people with a rope and pulley system, which help make the puppet look as if it is gracefully dancing and gesturing on stage. Puppeteers must have a background in Thai dance, as three dancers appear onstage with the puppet, one overseeing the head and left arm, a second controlling the right arm and a third controlling the puppet’s feet. These puppeteers normally wear all black and often put on masks to make their presence less noticeable and keep the audience’s attention on the main characters, the puppets!
The Joe Louis troupe’s performances also include Thai classical and contemporary dance, modern puppets, and live Thai classical and contemporary music.
Before the show, enjoy traditional Thai food in front of the theatre, which in addition to being a delicious introduction to The Art of Thai Cuisine, helps to support the work of the troupe in keeping the heritage of the Thai Puppet Masters alive.
Asiatique, at 2194 Charoen Krung Road, is only 1.3 km (a 15-minute walk) from Chatrium Hotel Riverside Bangkok. The river-front entertainment complex is also only 5.8 km (12 minutes by car) from Chatrium Residence Sathon Bangkok, 12.8 km (23 minutes) from Emporium Suites by Chatrium, and 12 km (20 minutes) from Maitria Hotel Sukhumvit 18.
The Joe Louis Traditional Thai Puppet Theatre is found in front of Warehouse No. 4, Building S13, under the sign that says “Joe Louis: The Art of Thai Cuisine”.
Shows start every Tuesday to Sunday (closed Monday) at 7:30 pm, and last one hour. The theme Tuesday-Thursday is “Masterpiece,” and on Friday-Sunday it is “Narasimha Avatar.”