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Lakhaon Festival to put 1,000 years on stage

Written By vibykhmer on Monday, August 31, 2009 | 6:00 AM


Photo by: Bennett Murray
Kor Borin, Alain Arnaudet and Sophiline Shapiro.


The Phnom Penh Post
Monday, 31 August 2009
Bennett Murray

From September 4 to 11, the exhibition of Khmer theatre and drama will bring to light ancient dynasties and postwar poverty.

THE French Cultural Center (CCF) is treating Cambodia to a week of both old and new Khmer theatre. From September 4 to 11, the CCF will host their third annual Lakhaon Festival at Chenla Theatre, where Khmer and French artists aim to revive traditional Khmer theatre while promoting new forms of Khmer drama.

"The Cambodia of today is full of special people," said CCF director Alain Arnaudet. "It is a good thing for this country to be conjured in our imaginations."

This year's event will add six new "creations" to the Lakhoan Festival, featuring traditional stories, such as the Ynav Bosba, performed by the Royal Ballet of Cambodia, and contemporary plays, such as Daytime's Darkness, performed by The Khmer Action Arts Company.

The Ynav Bosba is the classic Khmer version of the Rayamana. In this legendary Hindu epic, a princess is kidnapped from her wedding alter by an evil prince. The story progresses as her fiancé travels from afar to rescue her. Fast-forward 1000 years, and Daytime's Darkness brings the audience to the uglier side of post-Khmer Rouge Cambodia. In this modern spoken-word drama, an ultra-impoverished family works in the hellish Stung Meanchey garbage dump collecting reusable rubbish to sell for a few hundred riels. Although it is a dramatised portrayal, Daytime's Darkness is based on the experiences of the actors and their families.

A more unusual performance will arrive with the Pamas Company's rendition of The Girl Without Hands. A German classic, French and Khmer artists have collaborated on this Brothers Grimm fairy tale to bring about a Khmer adaptation of the play in what the CCF says is a "privileged moment of mutual enrichment" for both countries.

The story, which is about a girl who is unwittingly sold to the Devil by her father, is unfortunately all too relevant to contemporary Southeast Asia.

To make the plays as accessible as possible, all of the shows will be subtitled in both French and English. The plays are free for all to attend.

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