Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Sothon Rama - Yasothon, Thailand

The legend of the Sothon Rama holds that it was Northeast Thailand's largest theater of all time. A plausible legend, given the former theater's three-story verticality and ability, in the wake of film, to house a full-on department store. But short of a nod from the movie theater authorities, we'll keep it at that - an unconfirmed rumor to report on a blog.

Hot pink paint on the former Sothon Rama. Coloring reminiscent of the Yaem Yasothon films. Go figure!

Colors, I'm told, are mood makers. Orange is supposed induce hunger and red inspires awe of some sort. Pink makes me sick, especially when it's slapped across the facade of my favorite kind of place. But this is Isan, where neon hues reign supreme. For all I know, pink triggers a shopping mechanism in peoples' brains.

Big pink

Overlooking the former lower lobby, now a women's apparel department.

Sales woman in the shoe department, once the 2nd level lobby.

"Can I help you with something, sir?"

Photos of the Nanaphan Plaza interior are strictly prohibited. Management fears that spies working for rival department stores might use the photos to discern pricing schemes and undercut them. I had to show evidence to the extent that I'm no more than a movie theater enthusiast, traveling far and wide in search of lifeless gems. The interrogation was rigorous. I was asked repeatedly if I was single and which of the employees I found most attractive. Inwardly flustered, I kept my cool, said I dug them all, and finally got the green light.

Auditorium-turned-storage room

My theater escort guides the way up to the 3rd level lobby, where projection booth and soundtrack rooms are located.

A store security guard escorted me through the lesser used regions of the old theater. It was in these parts that the legend of largest seemed to ring true. The lobby was three levels high and equipped with a soundtrack room on the third floor. Before being gutted, the auditorium contained in excess of one thousand seats and the missing screen was purportedly immense. Being a late model stand-alone, dating back only 30 years or so, the builder would have had the benefit of hindsight to know how big he had to build to be number one. Sadly, his aspirations didn't last very long. Only into the mid-1990's, when the theater shut down.

Into the projection room

Empty boxes replace projectors.

Roof-top perspective

Up on the roof, beside the free-stand letters, a clear view of the little Isan city and its low-rise skyline. The Sothon Rama must have been the most popular place in town for a while, if not the biggest. The prime destination for family outings and checkers out. Now the sign letters say Nanaphan Plaza, where โสธรรามา once stood. Yet another indication that, far from improving, the world of mankind is steadily getting worse.

Security's last detail


  1. Fantastic building. Great pictures. Great text. No "Hello Yasothon" movie in other local theathers?

  2. No, I was hoping to catch it there, but I was too late.