We meet Virunpatch Kasemsri Na Ayudhaya, or Prare, at Nowhere, the airy rooftop restaurant in Ekamai that she recently opened with friends. The business marks a departure for the former entertainment and showbiz producer. Specialising in Western dance during her bachelor’s degree at Chulalongkorn University, following graduation Prare’s love of the performing arts led her to work in musical theatre with Boy Takonkiet Viravan of Exact and Scenario and later to pursue a master’s degree in physical theatre at Royal Holloway, University of London.
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“I wanted to study modern dance or choreography, but I chose physical theatre at Royal Holloway so that I could research and experiment with incorporating Thai culture and modern dance.” Being a student with a dance background, Prare says having a degree in physical theatre helped her to better understand the use of the body in stage performances beyond dancing.
Returning to Thailand she rejoined Takonkiet and had the chance to work closely with ML Bhandhevanop Devakula. “It was because I had a master’s in physical theatre that I got to work with ML Bhandhevanop. Exact would send young artists and kids like me to train with him, and in the end I also helped to coach the kids.”
As subsidiaries of GMM Grammy, Exact and Scenario gave Prare the opportunity to work as a producer across multi-media platforms, work ranging from television shows such as The Star to helping famous artists prepare for live concerts. “I was at Grammy for seven years and towards the end I mainly worked on live performances. I would use acting techniques to help the performer relax and give him or her confidence before going out on stage. The moment before you step out on to the stage is crucial, because if you lose your calm at that moment, it can affect the entire performance,” Prare says.
Her love for cooking started during her studies in the UK where she would bake and share her creations with fellow course mates. Thanks to technology, Prare would Skype her mother, Jitsa-ang, while she cooked, seeking guidance on recipes. Her culinary explorations grew into an idea for her own restaurant, Nowhere, which began to take shape about two years before she left GMM Grammy. However, Prare’s first venture into the restaurant business was with Kram Cafe & Thai Kitchen, an outlet she helped to promote within her circle of friends. “It was more like a hobby, somewhere to go after work to talk to customers and help with the services. It was good stress relief from work and it opened my eyes to the many business aspects of managing a restaurant.”
After leaving GMM Grammy, Prare started working full-time on turning Nowhere into reality. There were challenges, of course. “Although I love cooking I am not a professional chef, so I worked closely with our head chef to create the menus. I gave him many ideas and he would try to turn them into reality.” The restaurant, which opened in February 2017, espouses casual dining inspired by Prare’s experience in the UK. “In Bangkok, most rooftop outlets and bars are deemed for special occasions and require a semi-formal dress code but in the UK rooftop venues are very laid-back. I wanted to create a relaxed social space where people can come casually dressed to enjoy themselves.”
Prare still dances in her free time and recently took up yoga. She is also keen to do a show in the future, perhaps a physical theatre piece. She notes that although there are a few physical theatre companies in Thailand, most tend to focus on political issues, so she would like to do something with more of a humanitarian or social theme as a change of scene for viewers.
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