Pattaya Unplugged had the great opportunity to sit down with Mark Lloyd, Head of Drama at the Mooltripakdee international school and owner of the Odyssey Theatre Co. for a brief Q&A session about the theatrical arts in Thailand.
Unplugged: Why don’t you start off by telling all the readers a little bit about yourself. Where you are from, how and when you got to Thailand etc…
Mark Lloyd: I’m originally from a place called Gloucester in the South-West of England. I arrived in Thailand in November 2016. My main reason to come here originally was to support the work of Mercy Pattaya, but full-time employment often gets in the way of this. I try and help them when I can, but it’s not as much as I would like to. I started off working here at a local school through an English teaching agency but now I am the Head of Drama at Mooltripakdee International School.
Unplugged: You clearly have a love for Thailand. What brought you all the way from Gloucester to the Land of Smiles?
Mark Lloyd: In 2010 I became a Christian and ended up heading over to Thailand in August to volunteer with Mercy, Pattaya. I spent around 6 weeks with them where I helped out at the children’s home, taught English and visited the slums and prisons. It was such a rewarding an eye-opening experience. I fell in love with Thailand and made some life-long friends. When I returned back to the UK after my trip, I started a university course in Applied Drama. The aim was to always come back out to Thailand but it took me a little longer than expected.
Unplugged: WOW! Most people that I bump elbows with came here for much other reasons. You may be the first person we’ve talked to that hasn’t come here to start a bar.
Mark Lloyd: Actually I used to run bars back in the UK and did have my own for a few years in my early twenties. I’ve been involved in theatre, in one form or another since secondary school. Before my first trip to Thailand, I was volunteering with a group to teach drama workshops to adults with learning difficulties and then to primary school children. It was this experience that secured my place at university as I didn’t have any A-levels and was 27 before I started the course. The course was excellent and really helped to develop my skills not only as an actor but also as a drama practitioner and workshop facilitator.
Unplugged: So acting is pretty much your life now. It is a great thing that you are able to bring your talents to Thailand. When was it that you decided to form a theatre company?
Mark Lloyd: It started in my last year of university. I was working on a community drama project with adults who were living with dementia. I couldn’t afford to go to a drama school and so after graduating I decided to set up my own company called Ignite Theatre, to make my own opportunities and hopefully support others in theirs.
Unplugged: Working with people that have disabilities and dementia is a very noble thing to do. How many other people are involved in the project?
Mark Lloyd: Aside from myself, I have Debi, my co-artistic director back in the UK. Debi was actually my Voice and Body lecturer for 3 years at university and has always been very supportive. Before I moved to Thailand I asked her to join me in my venture. She supports me when I am back in the UK with productions. Here in Thailand I have had a lot of help from a lovely gentleman called Duane who is in his 80’s. He has taught Drama and directed shows in several countries and I am grateful for the knowledge he shares with me. Duane has directed me in the productions that I have performed so far here in Thailand. That is it so far but as I am slowly expanding I will be looking to take on or collaborate with more people in the not so distant future.
Unplugged: A small team is a tight-knit team. I like that. Word on the street is that you may have a new drama club project starting soon?
Mark Lloyd: Correct! I’m really excited about this. Drama Club is for children and young people aged 5 and over. It is very student-centered and will provide the children an opportunity to act, sing, dance and design, before putting everything together in an end of term show for the parents. We are launching this at 10 am on Saturday 5th September initially, running from The Oasis Resort by Lake Maprachan. If all goes well we will look to open other classes from the New Year if there is enough interest.
Unplugged: It sounds like a great thing for the kids to be able to get out and build their confidence. Of all of the things that have built my confidence over the years, being pushed out in front of the bright lights on a big stage in drama class way back in high school built it up the most. Will you ONLY be offering drama classes/clubs for children, or are there also adult programs in the future?
Mark Lloyd: I would love to have a weekly adults class too. I think drama is beneficial to people of all ages. It’s a great way to develop confidence, learn new skills, have fun and meet new people all at the same time. So adults who would like to be part of a weekly workshop should get in touch and I will see about getting one off the ground. Of course I have a number of productions throughout the year and anyone can audition to take part in those. Due to the limited performance spaces here in Pattaya my productions so far have been performed by a cast of only one or two actors. As my company grows I would like to be able to have the flexibility of working with a larger cast too.
Unplugged: I am SURE that there are middle-aged drama brats like myself that would be interested in stepping back into character. Is there any plan to put on theatrical performances for the public? i.e. ticket sales, regular plays etc..?
Mark Lloyd: So far in Thailand I have produced and performed in three plays but then everything was put on hold this year due to the pandemic. My next production will be in November and will be a double-bill of one-act plays set during World War 1 to commemorate Remembrance Week. Tickets will go on sale in October and for this performance, it will take place at The Oasis. We are going to convert the indoor restaurant into a fantastic studio theatre space for the week. After that I will be working on an original piece with a writer from Wales on the subject of Dementia. This will then be toured back in the UK and then brought to Thailand next summer.
Unplugged: It sounds like the plan is in motion already then! Great! What social media links or websites can people who would like to contact you use to do so?
There is Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Odysseytheatreco/
And the website: Odyssey Theatre
Unplugged: Obviously as a business you have to make some kind of income. What are the fees for your services?
Mark Lloyd: Ticket’s for public performances range from between 300-400 Baht.
Drama club fees are 310-360 Baht per session depending on the age of the child, paid monthly in advance.
School performances and workshop prices are tailored according to the needs of the school.
Unplugged: So you are doing outreach programs for the schools as well?
Mark Lloyd: Absolutely. Last year I performed my one-man show to students at both Regents and Rugby International Schools. During the period of on-line learning recently I was invited by St Andrews to run an on-line workshop on character development and to perform to their drama students. Last week I started a free 10-week drama workshop for students from Watkhaophotong School. The aim of these workshops will be to develop the student’s social skills, confidence and English speaking skills. I have a few other community based projects in the pipeline too but there is only so much I can do in one day!
Pattaya Unplugged would like to thank Mark for taking the time to sit down with us and discuss his efforts here in the Land of Smiles. For more information and any inquiries, please contact Mark at one of the links provided above, or get more information about the drama club HERE! We will check back in and see how things are going once the drama club is kicked off. We are interested to see how it goes and wish Mark and his team the best of luck.