Gabfai Community Theatre Group was established in 1996 in Chiang Mai as a private organization of popular media in a minor level without any consideration of political and economical ideology. We employ community, art, contemporary art, alternative media and creative activities to empower and enhance capacity as well as create various alternatives or space for exchanging knowledge for individuals, communities, organizations, and alliances. And we intend to expand space for people’s media in order to participate in social activities; for example, campaigns for raising awareness, prevention or solution ranging from community, public to policy level on the basis of peace and equality by having “Gabfai” as a popular media for campaign for an organization. Today Gabfai has a staff of four full time employees and a few committed volunteers. The English translation of Gabfai is ‘match.’ The group’s motto is ‘A single flame can light a thousand candles.’
In the middle of 1996, Mr. Amarin Plengrusme travelled from Bangkok to Chiang Mai to create a pilot project about new community theatre apart from theatre groups in Bangkok in order to respond to current problems and occurrences under cultural context, by which people in communities had been affected especially, in Upper North of Thailand. The target area was Chiang Mai because it had capacity and readiness to form a theatre group in the long run. By August 1996, the first fund was granted and children in Umphur Muang (in the city) interested were welcomed to participate in the project. After 1-month of training, the new generation of volunteers were ready to travel and later, the small group was developing to an organization. The development of the organization can be concluded in 5 periods (during 1996-2013) as follows:
Community Theatre is public area where media in a minor level (an individual level) is presented through the arts of theatre, local wisdom and culture including social information. With the assistance of these tools, working with community and public to create exchanging of knowledge between humans to offer various alternatives can be realized and creative changes in society can happen. This is a way to promote human right and liberty to perform peacefully and to reduce the gaps of knowledge, attitudes, and belief without politically and economically ideological influences. Cooperation and participation of individuals, communities, local organizations and NGOs or governmental organizations inside and outside the country are required in order to gain micro and macro achievement together.
Communities have the right to employ various media and to communicate in order to expand social space for peace of human-beings.
- Empowering and supporting capacity of individuals and communities by using art, cultural media and life-skill activities or creatively and appropriately alternative media
- Raising campaigns to create space for exchanging knowledge with public, society or target groups via alternative media in order to lead to creative knowledge, understanding, awareness and participation
- Supporting or cooperation of civil section, alliances to drive public policies which benefit for human rights in the national and international level
- Workshop Training “Gabfai” Community Theatre is an organization employing dramas as an equipment to work. We have interesting activities in the form of workshop trainings which focus on participation of participants in order to achieve mutual goals and intentions.
1. Community theatre
2. Life skills
3. Other training
- Media and Campaign employs mobile theatre as an equipment to communicate with determined target groups of each project. Besides, we accumulate and invite people from various organizations to take part in events around the end of the year. We also cooperate with our alliances to drive important public policies.
1. Mobile theatre
2. ACT festival (Arts Culture and Theatre Festival)
3. Other popular media for campaign
- Alliance Network After working in the Upper North of Thailand, there are many more Community Theatre Groups in the areas. Besides, Gabfai creates, promotes and join hands with other Media Culture Groups. This makes us see power of media in a community level so we persuade other groups to form Alliance Network in 2004. We also cooperate with other national and international alliance networks.
1. CRC Coalition Thailand
2. Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Woman
3. Stateless child protection Network 4. Other network of alliances