The script

          I had heard the story of ‘The Three Kingdoms’ from old folk from the time was very young. Thais usually love Chinese stories and, judging from the year that it was translated into Thai, of the entire genre, Thais are most familiar with ‘The Three Kingdoms’. I personally like the writing style of Chao Phraya Phra Khlang (Hon) very much, both his poetry and the prose. His language is sharp, concise and unique. The adaptation of the Chinese language into Thai is very beautiful. The story of ‘The Three Kingdoms’ itself is a first-class world historical novel and an intriguing examination of war strategy. It has been translated into many languages.

          "The Three Kingdoms" was translated into Thai during the reign of King Rama I. However, I am quite certain that the Thais knew the story of ‘The Three Kingdoms’ before then. The application of war strategy was popular as early as the Ayudhya Period. King Tak Sin’s version of Ramakien is quite different from that of King Rama I. The battle between the monkeys and the demons is very well organised and military strategy from ‘The Three Kingdoms’ was obviously applied. The army is sometimes ambushed and sometimes lured into a trap. Soldiers and warriors must have been acquainted with the war strategy of ‘The Three Kingdoms’. Students at schools and at the universities were assigned to read it, especially the episode of ‘The Battle of the Red Cliff’.

          Therefore, when Acharn Chakrabhand Posayakrit wanted a new story for the puppet performance, we chose The Battle of the Red Cliff from The Three Kingdoms. We assumed that there must already be a script that we might be able to refer to but we were disappointed. After a long search, we found nothing though there were some, such as Diaochan Deceiving Dong Zhuo, or Zhou Yu Vomiting Blood. I think that this was so because this episode requires a lot of people and techniques to make it into a successful performance.

          But we had decided and were obsessed by it. I had to adapt Chao Phraya Phra Khlang’s beautiful prose into verse because I needed to write the lyrics for the puppet performance. For the dialogue, I edited the original translation and cut it down to two hours. After a short introduction, the story begins. In the first scene we see Zi Long carrying A-Dou fighting his way out of Cao Cao’s army. Prince Naris’s Zi Long Suite fitted in perfectly. The story from then on to the end had to be written. Therefore, the new script was my responsibility. If it does not sound right, just think of it as entertainment but if it is good enough to be of any use to anyone, I will be very pleased to know.

          Although a Chinese story was chosen, the puppet performance remains genuinely Thai. This is thanks to the ingenuity of the Thai master musicians who can create a perfect harmony between the Thai and the Chines cultures. Some of the songs are of Chinese origin. Khru Boonyong Ketkong, one of the traditional Thai music masters, has adapted the Chinese music and created a new song, a Thai song with a touch of Chinese music. Some of the songs used for The Three Kingdoms were created in this way. Some old songs were shortened, some rearranged, some borrowed and some adapted. Contributors were Khru Cheun Sakulkaew and Khru Mom Charoen, to name only two. The lyrics also came from various sources and a few phrases came from Acharn Chakrabhand’s mother.

          All in all, the music for The Three Kingdoms was made possible by Khru Boonyong and Khru Cheun who helped us with the arrangement.

          So, the puppets of The Three Kingdoms are not Chinese but Thai puppets that sound Chinese. The music is a mixture of Thai and Chinese but is mainly Thai. The story may be slightly different from the book because we only had two hours to tell the story. Some scenes have been borrowed from other episodes because beautiful and moving dialogue can make the story more exciting, for example, when Zhou Yu spits at the sky and says, “The gods sent me down on earth but why did they send Kong Ming too?”

          However, the main story line has strictly kept to the original version of Chao Phraya Phra Khlang (Hon).

Vallabhis Sodprasert
Script writer
Translated by Aura Tanskul and revised by Nopamat Veohong
Reference: The Script writer’s Note in the souvenir programme of the puppet production of the episode of the Battle of the Red Cliff from The Three Kingdom, with some revisions especially in the romanisation of the Chinese names.