The duality of female characterization in Thai theatre and film is exemplified by the character of Mae Naak. She is a ghost-woman whose love for her husband transcends death, but monastic Buddhism sees her as consumed by worldly attachment. This character, along with other famous traditional stage figures such as White Snake, Kaki, Sita (Sida), and Busba, is experiencing a change of interpretation in contemporary Thailand, especially as women have become prominent dramatists and have chosen to confront the "good-bad" woman dichotomy in Thai court, popular, and folk theatres. In contemporary productions such characters have been presented in a feminist light, which exposes the misogynistic structures leading to their predicaments. Dramatists such as playwright Daraka Wongsiri and actress-producer Patravadi Mejudhon explore the shifting perspective toward women's roles in modern Thai culture, influenced by both Bhuddist and Western ideals. The conflict within Mae Naak continues to be relevant to her contemporary counterparts, for though the duality may take on modern public-private dimensions, it remains unresolved and theatrically powerful.


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pp. 111-148
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