x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Sontaya restaurant at Saadiyat Island serves a taste of Thai royalty with food and puppetry

The Thai Food festival, which incorporates puppets, will take place at the Sontaya Thai restaurant in the St Regis Saadiyaat Abu Dhabi for 10 days.

Sakorn Yangkhiawsod, the founder of Joe Louis Theatre. Apichart Weerawong / AP Photo
Sakorn Yangkhiawsod, the founder of Joe Louis Theatre. Apichart Weerawong / AP Photo

Beginning Thursday, the Thai restaurant Sontaya at Abu Dhabi's St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort will be hosting a 10-day food and puppetry festival to celebrate Thai culture. As part of the restaurant's dining experience, guests can sample Thai delicacies while enjoying the opulence of live puppetry from Thailand's famed Joe Louis Theatre - believed to be the only direct descendants of the founder, Master Sakorn Yangkhiawsod, and dating back more than a century.

Chanunya Choonak, the executive director of Joe Louis Theatre, says that puppetry and food have been working hand-in-hand throughout Thai history. "In the past, puppetry was performed for entertaining during great ceremonies and dinners for the royal family," she says. "Art, whether puppetry or dance, plays a vital role in our culture."

Puppetry, however, has become to a certain degree, less visible today, according to Choonak, who feels that reminding people about culture and history is vital. "The Joe Louis Theatre was created to continue and conserve the art of puppetry," she says.

Apart from preserving the original art, which was started by Yangkhiawsod, the Joe Louis Theatre also strives to adapt to the modern world, allowing both older and younger generations to enjoy the performances.

"Our modern puppets range from a Michael Jackson puppet, an Elvis puppet and even a Beyoncé puppet," says Choonak.

"We will be performing a mixture of our most popular shows," says Choonak.

A temporary stage has been built in Sontaya to accommodate the puppeteers and their performances.

The Thai Festival at Abu Dhabi's St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort begins Thursday and continues until April 27. Call 02 498 8888 or email reservations.saadiyat@stregis.com

artslife@thenational.ae

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