Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Siam Theater - Yala, Thailand

Geographically speaking, the Siam Theater feels like the center of Yala. Not just the center of the old commercial section of town - which it is the center of - but the entire province. It's almost as if the old Mandala system of Buddhist monarchical rule, in Yala, fanned outwards from its cosmological core at the Siam Theater. If only in name, that's not such a stretch, as the theater's original moniker was The King's Theater. 

With its terminated vista setting anchoring the middle of old downtown, the Siam is a spectacle even in post-life. One can only image its affect on the town's image when festooned with colorful movie billboards and twinkling lights.  


The Siam Theater at the terminus of a cozy urban vista 


Dating to the early 1960's, the Siam was once the premiere movie theater of Yala. International Style architecture, then the vanguard of modern building design, was deftly employed to help the Siam achieve its top tier status. 


Hand painted signage in Thai and Chinese

Sadly, in conjunction with the usual socio-technological factors that cause stand-alone movie theaters to fail, Yala and the rest of the deep south have had an on-going insurgency to further dampen the movie going spirit. That constant fear of violence has kept locals indoors for all but the most necessary activities. Leisurely pursuits like movie going lost their appeal, leading to theater closure after theater closure. Today, a mall-based Coliseum Cineplex is the only option in Yala for watching a movie on the silver screen.

As for the Siam, for the past 5 years it's been a swiftlet nesting house.



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