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Title: Shakespeare in Thailand
Author: Tungtang, Paradee
ISNI:       0000 0004 2703 9861
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2011
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Unlike most Asian nations to which Shakespeare was imported with the colonizers during the mid-1800s to impose Western literary culture on the colonized, in the case of Thailand, it is the other way round. Thailand (or Siam as it was called then) managed to escape colonization by Western powers, but during this politically unstable period, Siam felt the urgent need to westernize the country. A period of intensive westernization thus began. Shakespeare arrived as one of several significant elements of the nation’s self-westernization in literary education. In 1916, the name of Shakespeare became widely known in Siam as one of his plays, The Merchant of Venice, was translated by King Vajiravudh (1881-1925), who is highly regarded as a prolific dramatist and all-around man of letters in the country. The King himself initiated Western literary translation by translating three plays by Shakespeare, namely The Merchant of Venice (1916), As You Like It (1921), and Romeo and Juliet (1922), and also by adapting Shakespeare’s Othello (1925) into a Siamese conventional dance drama playtext. Although there were some other attempts before and after the King to translate Shakespeare, none of them has been successful in leaving a memorable impact in Thai literary circles as much as the King’s version. Translating and staging Shakespeare’s works in Thailand became rare, practised only within a small circle of literary scholars. During the first few decades of the twentieth century, there have been a handful of attempts to translate and stage Shakespearean plays by commercial Thai theatre practitioners. To stage Shakespeare’s plays in Thailand especially in a contemporary context, most production teams have encountered a similar difficulty, that of bridging the gap to bring Shakespeare to Thai popular audiences who embrace different backgrounds in dramatic practice and aesthetics. The main purposes of this study are, therefore, to examine how Shakespeare has been translated, staged, and received by Thai readers and audiences from the late nineteenth century when Shakespeare was introduced in Siam until today, and to locate his influences and impact on Thai literary and theatrical culture. This study is designed to shed light on the history of Thai translations of Shakespeare and also to provide an analysis of the translation strategies adopted by early Thai translators to domesticate Shakespeare into the Thai context. So the thesis examines the process of text appropriation and domestication adopted by Thai translators and theatre practitioners to make Shakespeare accessible to Thai readers and popular audiences. The use of Shakespeare’s plots and allusions to Shakespeare’s plays in contemporary Thai television soap operas is also another main focus of the study. This study also suggests that the domestication process applied to Shakespeare both in translation and in staging is influenced by the changes in the social, political and aesthetic contexts of each different period; furthermore, the process of domestication obviously becomes less problematic the further the country moves towards westernization.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Ford Foundation
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PL Languages and literatures of Eastern Asia, Africa, Oceania ; PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater ; PR English literature