Flying Neverland with Finnish Puppeteer

The joyful turn comes to Thai orphans when the Puppet Theatre Sytkyt has been invited by the Embassy of Finland in Bangkok to spread Christmas cheer to Thai orphanages by performing the famous puppetry and surprising gifts from Santa Claus.
Sytkyt, established by Juha Laukkanen, came back to Thailand for consecutive years since 2003 with kindly sponsors and donations from Thais and Finnish business communities here in Thailand.
Sytkyt visited over 30 orphanages with approximately 7,000 children together in this year tour in Bangkok and surrounding provinces; Nonthaburi, Cholburi, Rayong, and Kanchanaburi.
The visit tour included Mercy Centre which provides a home for children living in the street of Bangkok’s slum, Pakkred Babies Home which is a home for abandoned infants and babies from hospitals and public places, and Home for Children of the Forest near the Thai-Burma boarder in Kanchanaburi province where Burmese and Thai orphans are taken good care of.
In this one-man simply theatre on a table, Juha Laukkanen acted as a story teller, actor and puppeteer while his Thai assistant Nop helped him translate the story from English into Thai for the audience, from one to more than 40 years of age.
“Normally, I perform the fairytales and folk stories from around the world; sometimes I show the marionette of Ramayana which is Thai traditional epic to the children in Finland to remind them that the world is so big big.., not just only our own little Finland,” Juha, who also studied Master in marionette or hunkrabog in Thailand, mentioned about his repertoire.
He continued that here in Thailand, he entertained audience with the story from Finland. It was about a white unhappy rose in cold mountain of Finland who wanted friends and became red when she is happy. Santa Claus travelled around and helped the rose by asking others on the way how to be happy. Finally, the rose knew that whenever she wants to be happy, she just be with her friends, and that is the important message of this story.
“Good morning everyone, let’s fly from Thailand to the snowy Finland. Ohhh..it’s very cold here…” Juha started the story with the chilling voice and acting, along with the special music of the show.
During the show, children interacted in their own ways; some of them were flying and enjoying their own huge fantasies, and also some were sitting quietly but with wide-opened mouth wondering what and how the story is going to be.
And then…Santa Claus just showed up and surprised boys and girls at the end of the show with candies and cookies in his hand.
“Woo! It’s an amazing experience for them, not all of them know Santa so they were a bit afraid and cried. But finally, they just wanted to touch and hug Father Christmas,” said Nina Ekholm, a coordinator of the puppet tour who works at the Embassy and acted as Santa Claus sometimes.
“Moreover, the children also performed for us. Sometimes the show was almost one hour, but sometimes it was just children singing; elephant or turtle song in Thai. It was fun and also means lot for them for the self-esteem and also self-confident,” Nina continued and laughed when she recalled the days.
Juha agreed with Nina on this point and also added that it is important for children, especially orphans. He wants to see them with the cheerful childhood as longest as possible. “Life nowadays is tough. Playing like a child is such important, not only spending time in front of computers,”
“Puppet theatre is the first step to arts, it can inspire imagination in childhood. Later, they will be appreciated for the further step of arts; which could be theatre, art exhibitions, concerts, operas and so on,” Juha marked the importance of arts for children.
“When I was young, I went to theatre with my grandparents quite often. Sitting and waiting for the show, and then…the curtain was slowly opened, light on a stage, fairytales, applauding from the audience. It’s such a good life, and that’s what I want to be,” Juha lughed and ended “And I can be Peter Pan here.”

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