Patravadi Mejudhon is by any standards a doyen of the Thailand arts world. However her contribution to Hua Hin’s arts and education scene remains largely unheralded.
You won’t see or hear of Khru Lek, as she is often known, joining the local hi-society social scene or being amongst the ‘beautiful people’ around town, albeit that she is no recluse. That sort of limelight now has little appeal; her selfbelief and confidence in what she can and has achieved is enough. As the curtains rose on HM the King’s 1959 production of Manohra, the life of one young audience member was about to change forever. This contemporary dance performance completely enchanted Patravadi Mejudhon and over the years she has thrilled millions with her performances and is now passing on her skills to the next generation through her very own school in Hua Hin. Patravadi’s mother, Khunying Supatra Singholaka always made a point of taking her daughter to see classical dance and drama as well as Chinese opera. But it came as a surprise to her parents when their daughter announced she wanted a career in the performing arts. They had expected that she would work with them in the family business, running the popular Chao Phraya river boat service in Bangkok.
Trained in Thai classical dance and singing, her experiences included training in western style of theatre and dance with various schools and masters in England, New York and Canada. Khru Lek is perhaps best known for experimenting with the fusion of traditional Thai elements with contemporary theatre presentation techniques and has created her signature style contemporary Thai theatre. Patravadi Mejudhon turned her talents to nearly every aspect of the performing arts and is now an award-winning actress, a playwright-director-producer, a well-respected mentor, and an advocate for cultural policy in Thailand. She was named as a ‘National Artist’ in 2014 and presented with royal trophies and badges from Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn on National Artists Day last year.
Apart from holding a Doctorate in Arts from Rajabhat Thonburi University, her dedication and commitment in the development of Thai performing arts has won her the prestigious ‘Golden Sithi Tada Award’; her works have represented Thailand on many international occasions. Then there is an award from the French Minister of Culture and Communication which described her as a ‘Chevalier of the French Literature and Arts Order’ and lauded her ‘influence of culture in France, Thailand and all over the world’. The Patravadi theatre in Bangkok was founded by her in 1992 and became known for its outdoor stage, large-scale theatre and well-trained performers in various arts. However the theatre was closed following the great flood in 2010 and Khru Lek then founded Patravadi High School Hua Hin.
Since then the 200 rai site, just past the railway overpass south of the city on Petchakisim Road, has been developed into an holistic centre for education and the arts with Khru Lek as the founder, guiding influence and mentor.
What can you find at the ‘Patravardi Complex’?
The Vic Hua Hin Theatre and Gallery
The name “Vic” comes from “the Old Vic”, the common name for London’s famous Royal Victorian Theatre founded in 19th century. This has been a venue in past years for the Hua Hin Fringe Festival with tiered seating for up to 400 patrons with an auditorium and stage area with modern lighting and sound equipment. The venue is like no other in Hua Hin and perhaps the only place which could accommodate sophisticated theatrical and dance performances. These days productions are typically annual, using the talents of students, teachers and visiting artists. Entrepreneurs who may wish to take advantage of this fantastic facility are welcome to discuss their ideas with Khru Lek. From our perspective it begs to become the hub of cultural and theatrical life in Hua Hin!
Patravadi High School Hua Hin
This is a small (60 – 70 students) residential high school with students from all over Thailand. Learning is often by experience in the wider activities available which is merged with the more formal educational requirements. Khru Lek takes a hands-on involvement and a personal involvement in each student’s progress and welfare. Patravadi Elementary School This is a relatively recent addition to the educational scene. The school has largely taken over the model of education provided by the late Mom Dusadee Boriphat Na Ayuttaya, who provided some of the inspiration to Khru Lek for what has been achieved overall.
Art Camps and Weekend School
Weekend camps and activities for all ages include Thai classical music and dance, ballet, piano, musical instruments, singing, Latin dance, painting, clay sculpting and acrobatics. There is really no limit to what can be planned and developed within the complex with renowned teaching artists.
Naidee Sculptured Huts
Naidee is a renowned Thai clay artist who spent over three years sculpting each hut so that guests are literally staying in a work of art. This is a unique form of accommodation allowing for a continuing experience of the site. We are still to mention the British Educational Children’s Centre (an independent school), the Hua Hin Horse Club and the NLP Golf School. These are all independent activities based at the site. There is also a coffee and souvenir shop within the grounds as well as fruit and vegetable growing areas and many different animals. There’s probably more! Visitors who wish to check out what can be found are welcome to call in to the main office before exploration.
Hua Hin Today was privileged to spend time discussing the transition of Khru Lek from the life of a Diva on the Thailand theatrical scene to focusing on education with a very individual style and understanding of how the young can be nurtured towards a successful life. She has established a complex which follows this passion and offers Hua Hin a facility that, like it’s founder, is away from the mainstream but is a jewel in the crown of what Hua Hin has to offer. As Patravadi Mejudhon says, “We owe it to the next generation to pass on our knowledge, to teach them useful skills and most of all, to inspire them.”