Thailand, Week Two

January 24, 2015


Thailand Update for the Week of January 12 – 16.

A weekly update of the activities of artists from Interact Minneapolis (Artistic Director Jeanne Calvit, Story-teller Kevin Kling, Actors Lhea Jeagar and Dominic Zeman and myself) as we create musical theater with the staff and artists at RICD/Interact Thailand.  Interact Theater’s mission is to create arts through radical inclusion that changes society’s view of disability.  

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Baby Please with Pong in #loisknits

Bear with me: but I have to start every blog with the obligatory Baby Please picture. This week we have her sporting a handmade knit cap from Grandma Lois.  I struggle to imagine ways this child could be any more adorable.




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Exploring ways to celebrate for ‘The Love Show.’

Week two is now behind us and we’ve created four new scenes and three new songs for The Love Show – a show about all the different ways we find love in life. I’ve included the Enligh translation of lyrics for our new song To Love and To Mean Itbelow.

In July, an excerpt of this show will be performed for the Princess of Thailand.  She will be visiting the hospital for its grand opening so it’s important that the songs and scenes really showcase the stories and talents of these unique performers.

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Lhea gets her hand kissed by Future. Unfortunately, he’s a little young for her. Pretty cute though! (see below)

The guest artists from Interact Minneapolis, Dominic and Lhea, haven’t hesitated one bit when it comes to the theater creation. They are great role models and have really inspired the other here in Thialand with their confidence.

Our (very resonant) rehearsal room is always filled with laughter and positive energy.  We have a lot of new faces including this year including Non, Mooham, A, Jing, Jo, Kate, Fern, Pi-Pi, Kong, Mon and Future. I hope I have time to feature everyone, but let’s start with Future and Kong.

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Future (who Kevin Kling lovingly refers to as “Mini-Me”)

Future is eight-years-old and actually participated in the program three years ago.  Now he’s back for more!

In his own words: “I like Interact Thailand because everyone is very funny and I have good friends here.  I love acting because it’s healthy to have fun and laugh.

When asked what super power he’d like to have: “I would be “Ee-say” (a Japanese anime character) because he has a big magic dragon arm that gives him power within.



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Kong giving an example of the “culture of cute” that is so popular in Asia.

This is Kong‘s first time working with Interact Thailand and he’s grown tremendously in the past two weeks. He’s very articulate, full of passion and ideas, and improvises poetry.

In his own words: “Interact Thailand is very fun!  I used to be very shy but I’m not shy anymore.  I have so many new friends and it’s best when we can do theater together.  When I finish the program, I hope I can teach my friends at school how to make theater.  Also, the food is delicious.


He’s right!  Everyday, RICD provides a hot lunch that makes American hot lunch look like garbage (which isn’t difficult). Everyday we are greeted with green curry or pad see ew or stir fry and soup.  It’s really delicious (arroi mat mat) and generous of RICD.  Some days, they even include a beautiful dessert! #nomorechickennuggets

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Pad See Ew

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Barbecued pork with cucumbers.

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The occasional dessert.



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Mr. Singh visits rehearsal

Our featured staff member this week is the Mr. Singh.

Mr. Singh visited Interact in Minneapolis in 2011 and then took a course at the Child Development Institute of Los Angeles.

Mr. Singh is now the director of the Psychology Department at RICD and the founder of the Music and Drama Therapy program.  He studied theater and film-making before going into Psychology, so combining his two passions is a dream-come-true for him.  He also started a program for parents of disabled artists called ParentClassroom.

He says he witnesses the transformative power of the arts and disability every day and believes that someday, Interact Thailand will be the epi-center of radical inclusion in the arts for South East Asia.   They already have several satellite programs in Chiang Mai and weekly visitors from around the world.

(In fact, last week, a mental health worker from Malaysia named Chuah Yee Lin observed our rehearsals. She took one of the Interact Education guides and was very keen on starting an Interact program in Malaysia.)

He also says he looks forward to years of continued collaboration with Interact in Minneapolis. NOTE:  Mr. Singh is a fellow foodie and is the one responsible for introducing us to weasel coffee.  #weaselcoffeeisthebest  #thankyoumrsingh #lifechanger


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Tha Phea Gate Walking Market

One of the great parts of being in Chiang Mai is the amazing (and crowded) Tha Phae Gate Walking Market on Sunday nights. Thousands of people descend on the center of town near the canal to sample amazing Northern Thailand cuisine and buy hand-crafts.  The city shuts down the streets to traffic and allows hundreds of vendors to set up shop on the sidewalks for one kilometer end to end.

Last Sunday I was able to meet our translator from last year, Nattie and catch up with her.  I was so excited to see that many of the vendors from last year remained in their same locations. Especially the Ancient Ice Cream stand (ice cream which isn’t actually from thousands of years ago, but is made from coconut milk) which features flavors like taro, pandanus, black bean (my favorite) and, of course, coconut. #ancienticecream #chiangmaistreetfood

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Ancient Ice Cream Stand

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Black bean ice cream

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Stuffed crab shells

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Pork balls with thai salsa

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The food court

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Barbeque chicken

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Fun desserts

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Nattie and Mu Tsum


In other news, Interact Alumni Alan Ernst was here last week and was able to visit rehearsal and even play along. And Interact Development Director Lori Sudit will be joining us for a couple of days next week on her family vacation.


Leapin’ Lizards!

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The scene of the crime: our front porch at Rasiya.

As it turns out, my roommate Kevin Kling and I have a family of lizards living in the rafters above the table outside our room.

About five minutes after Kevin went inside the other night, the mother lizard (probably about a foot-and-a-half long, 2 lbs) fell with a smack right where Kevin was sitting.  Imagine the sounds someone dropping an uncooked chicken on a tile floor. Anyway, it then slithered under the chair where he had been sitting. Of course, I wanted to take a photo, but when I moved the chair I startled it and it darted – DIRECTLY INTO OUR ROOM!

I spent the hours of 11pm-1am moving every piece of furniture in room, trying to find the creature. Finally, giving up, I moved Kevin’s suitcase back to where it original location and out she popped.  She then proceeded to run up and down the wall over Kevin’s head, down on the floor behind his bed and then disappeared somewhere in the wall.

We both went to bed, but throughout the night, we continued to hear her panicked scuttling around us.  I decided to leave the door open so she could leave freely.  Let’s hope the whole family didn’t decide to move in.  #kevinhasanewroommate #notafanoflizards

Lyrics to Love It and Mean It

[I used a similar song model for Interact’s residency at the Mississippi Arts Magnate School last year.  All the lyrics were taken from an exercise where the performers were asked to describe their dreams of love.  Let’s hope this one is just as successful.]


Last night in my dream the King and I were painting

Painting the happy Thai people

The king asked me why all the people were happy

I said, my King, it’s quite simple:


Everyone has something to be happy about

Though everyone’s reason is different

Reasons to be happy are infinite, like stars

To be happy is to love and to mean it


Love is cleaning the house for my mother

Love is being hugged by a handsome young man

Love is giving friends the things that they need

Love is to dance and dance and dance


Love is a kiss on the cheek from my daddy

Love is a walk in the woods

Love is deciding not to be too naughty

Love is doing what I should to be good


Love is a dream of kissing Rhianna

Love is a dream of marrying Blue

Love is a phone call from the girl who works at Seven

Love is my parents giving me money so that I could buy cookies and cake every day for the rest of my life (pause)


Love is being a red and black butterfly

Love is always having a job

Love is being trustworthy and honest

Love is being in love


That’s when the king put down his paint brush

And asked me to tell him one thing:

“How do you mend a broken heart

If love is the thing that is missing?”


Most love takes time to understand

Remember there are always two sides

And remember to not be too serious

Let a happy spirit be your guide


Everyone has something to be happy about

Though everyone’s reason is different

Reasons to be happy are infinite, like stars

To be happy is to love and to mean it






  1. That was amazing. I want to be involved. lso


  2. What interesting times you are sharing with us, thank you Aaron…!
    Kevin’s minnie seems to be just as sweet and spirited as the original… the food is makig my taste buds dizzy…the love song is fresh and simple….”How to break a broken heart” deserves a song just to its own…everyone wants to know how to do such delicate repairs…in those times, we are all that lizard fallen from the rafters and panicking in the night.
    Wish I wad with you guys,
    Be well


  3. Looks like you guys are having a great time! The kids are so cute, of course Leah and Nick must just love working with them.

    Slap a leash and collar on that lizard and you’ll have yourself a new pet!


  4. Pingback: Thailand, Week Four | Aaron Gabriel, Composer

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