If you’ve been following the news, you now know why this Thai pharmacist and humanitarian who’s often referred to as “Gypsy Medicine Maker” rightly deserves the Magsaysay Award 2009, the Asian counterpart of Nobel Prize.
If not, here’s a brief.
Not only did she invent the GPO-VIR (generic fixed-dose combination of stavudine, lamivudine and nevirapine for treatment of advanced HIV infection), but Dr. Krisana’s tireless efforts have also guaranteed that it is available to the people who need it the most—no matter where they are and how much they can pay for it.
This is against the endless and strong resistance from government officials, politicians, and multinational pharmaceutical companies in many countries.
Based on their interviews with Dr. Krisana, American playwrights Vince LiCata and Ping Chong turned her life and works into a play titled COCKTAIL. The world premiere was in April 2007 at
Veteran Thai director Dangkamon “Khru Fiat” Na Pombejra (Siam Niramit, Vazlav, and The Spring Awakening) discovered the script of COCKTAIL, recently published by Silkworm Books, by chance at his favourite bookstore here in
“I was first struck by the name of Ping Chong. He’s a world-renowned Chinese American director whose works are truly amazing. I was even more excited to find the play’s subtitle ‘a play about the life and work of Dr. Krisana Kraisintu’. I had already known about her life and works from TV interviews, magazine articles, webboards, etc. I’ve been tremendously impressed on how she could be so strong, determined, dedicated, and compassionate for people of the world.”
“I finished [reading] the play in one night and I had a mix of emotions. It’s fun, hilarious, tragic, surprising, and touching. At times, I was empathizing with the main character’s angst and discomfort, especially when I realize that what stand in the way of producing and distributing her drug are actually people’s fear, selfishness, narrow-mindedness, ignorance, and infatuation.”
“I did a lot of research before starting the rehearsal back in June—on AIDS, anti-HIV drugs, drug patent laws, NGOs who are campaigning for the patient’s right, Samui Island, Democratic Republic of the Congo, current events in Thailand since 1984, etc. But the biggest challenge for me is that this is the first time I’m staging a play about real people who are still living.”
Portraying the role of Dr. Krisana is stage acting and directing professor Bhanbhassa “Khru Ning” Dhubtien, the only Thai member of
Khru Fiat says, “I ask Khru Ning not to ‘be’ Dr. Krissana, but instead ‘show’ her fight against all odds as a human being. I think that’s what any audience can relate to, instead of just sit back and watch this Superwoman character, feeling somewhat detached and thinking ‘Well, that’s not me, I’m not Dr. Krisana’.”
COCKTAIL (or in Thai title NANGFA NIRANAM) runs from August 20 to 30 (except Monday) at Bangkok Art and Culture Centre’s Studio 4 (BTS: National Stadium). 7pm daily, with 2pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
After the matinees of Saturday and Sunday, August 22 and 23, Dr. Krissana will give a special lecture and join a panel discussion. Theatre critics, led by Kittisak Suvannapokhin, will voice their comments after the matinee of Saturday, August 29.
written by Pawit Mahasarinand
published in DAILY XPRESS on Monday, August 10, 2009
photos courtesy of Chulalongkorn University's Dramatic Arts Department