‘Pratthana – A Portrait of Possession’ by Toshiki Okada at Centre Pompidou


WordsJessica Saxby

Pratthana – A Portrait of Possession ©Sopanat

Following the success of his play Five Days in March (2004) staged in Paris earlier last year, renowned Japanese director Toshiki Okada staged his most recent work, Pratthana — A Portrait of Possession, at the Centre Pompidou last December. Adapted from the novel by the same name by Thai writer Uthis Haemamool, the play, an epic four hours and twenty minutes long, recounts the stories of a painter and his tumultuous love life, as well as tales of Thailand’s recent history.

Born in 1973 in Yokohama, Okada has been a firm fixture on the Festival d’Automne’s programming, having brought various productions to Paris since 2008. For this most recent work, he first met Haemamool in 2015, later meeting to discuss the novel, whose underpinning idea was ‘to interrogate the way in which ‘legitimate’ history is constructed through the prism of the formation of the nation-state, and the way that this question can be aligned with those pertaining to the body’. The novelist had always had the intention of exploring these ideas through diverse artistic forms, and through a series of conversations followed by a process of adaptation, the pair worked together to produce the play.

Explored through quotidian choreographies, the piece explores politics and the nation, control and power, desire and the body, looking at ways in which we can erase borders and contours only to better transgress them.

Pratthana – A Portrait of Possession ©Sopanat