One of the most under-rated aspects of living in Bangkok, to me, is the availability of affordable live shows.
Those of you expats living "in the sticks" struggle to get the local cinema (which may be hours away) to see a film not dubbed-over in Thai (I well know your pain), but Bangkok has a surprisingly vibrant performing arts community. The problem is, it's not always easy to find out what's going on.
Pricey West End shows
One of my favourite things to do when visiting London or New York is to go see a West End or Broadway show, but these tickets will set you back a LOT; my last trip to London, I saw only two shows (Yes, Minister and Mamma Mia; don't judge me), and it set me back something like 200 GPB.
Sure, Bangkok does have a Broadway/West End-quality show come to town from time to time, but you're going to pay the same price or more; did anyone see that psychedelic contemporary dance version of Alice in Wonderland at Thailand Cultural Center last year? Talk about expensive. And trippy.
Expats treading the boards
These "hiso" shows aside, Bangkok's local expat and enthusiastic Thai performer community manages to put on several shows a year as part of various productions. Keeping in mind that the majority of these shows cast working people in Bangkok that just want to have fun putting on a show, I've been quite impressed with the shows I've seen; most recently, I saw the Bangkok Community Theatre's rendition of the British classic Up Pompeii! (Frankie Howerd), and included in the 1,000 THB ticket price was a Hilton buffet dinner; you'd easily spend that at the cinema on a Friday night, yet this was a live [risqué and hilarious] show!
I believe their next gig is May 14, an interactive dinner showing of the musical Grease (650 THB including buffet dinner and "goody bag"); nothing like getting your Olivia Newton-John on.
Paula Vogel's How I Learned to Drive was recently put on by Peel the Limelight Productions in a little blackbox theatre near Asok recently (400 THB), and I was absolutely blown away with its impact; I'm by no means a theatre critic, but for a [relatively] amateur production, it was fantastically moving. Hell, The Comedy Club Bangkok even put on an improv-style Rocky Horror Picture Show not too long ago (400 THB), and it was just... well, awesome.
Finding out about shows
The problem is, it's often difficult to find out about these productions; as the expat community is constantly in flux, it's hard to keep up with who is promoting what, when, and where. I know there are Facebook groups for these kinds of things, but you have to be in the know or actively searching to even get that far. That, and I must be the only person left in Thailand that's not into Facebook. (Twitter is far more fun!) Mango Metro, BigChilli, and other expat publications will have information sometimes, but your best bet is to just ask around; I'm sure there are shows I'm missing.
It's amazing to me that working people in and around Bangkok can make the time to put on these little productions, yet still be highly energetic in the process. Even if you aren't a theatre person, per se, these shows can be fun; everything I've seen thus has been fairly sabai-sabai (chill), and... well, everything is more fun with a cash bar!
I'd highly recommend checking a show out.
I hope you enjoyed my blog. If you would like to get in touch or perhaps e-mail me with a question, I would love to hear from you - All the best, Sam Thompson.