Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The San Meuang Theater - Phrae, Thailand

I had been following the trail of the old San Meuang Theater through wavering accounts of its current state of being. Given even the slightest lead, I will take it, while always keeping in mind that people's memories are often poor gauges of things old. I've had people tell me that such and such theater was torn down 20 years ago only to find it still on its feet. Sometimes their memory serves them right, sometimes wrong. Either way, it's worth following up.
What stood out most about tracking down this old theater was the responses of two young guys I met along the way. I'd been sent in the general direction of the theater, passing every landmark that I'd been steered towards without finding it. Then I met the two said young men selling lotto tickets in front of a convenience store. "Hey dudes," I started, "are you familiar with Phrae city?" They both nodded and told me they were life long residents. "Cool," I continued, "Well then can you tell me how I get to the old movie theater from here."

Two dumbfounded faces stared back at me."You mean the Mansruang? It's back the way you came from," replied one of them, pointing over my shoulder.

"No, I know of that one already. I was told there's another old theater right around here."

They looked at each other, expressions of mental strain pouring off their nubile faces. "No man," said one, "there ain't no old movie theater around here. Only the Mansruang back that way."

I thanked them for their time and walked on.
Of course, about 75 meters down the street I found what I was looking for; what they never knew existed. My guess is that the old San Meaung Theater was closed before the pair were old enough to remember it in any form besides its current manifestation as a night club. It's for reasons like this that I undertake this weird project. People forget fast.
The old San Meaung Theater, now a night club.
Graffitti mural featuring the late Tupak Shakur and Notorious B.I.G., two legendary characters of Siamese mythology, covers the front wall of the late San Meaung Theater.
More graf on the parking lot wall
More graf
And more graf
There weren't many people around who could give me any stats on the San Meaung. Its movie showing days came to a halt sometime in the 1980's. A nearby shop keeper recalled that it opened in the late 1950's or early 1960's and that the owner now lives in Bangkok. Sadly, that was the extent of the info I could gather on it.

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