A little teaser for next week’s production of I Am a Camera in Cambodia, adapted & directed by yours truly. For this version, we moved the action from 1930s Berlin (amid the rise of the Nazis and antisemitic violence) to Phnom Penh in 1969 (amid the build up to Lon Nol’s coup and the rise of anti-Vietnamese violence). Read more about the show here! >>
Okay, quick disclaimer: I’m talking about European-style opera here. Cambodia has a rich performance history blending theatre and singing, but it’s never staged an opera.
The really exciting thing about this project, which is a version of Mozart’s Magic Flute that’s taken years to put together, is that it isn’t just plonking Mozart in the Kingdom of Wonder. The team have carefully woven together Mozart’s music with traditional Cambodian music and instruments, and reimagined the story as the tale of Rama and Sita from Hindu myth. Oh, and the ultimate show will be staged in an actual Angkor Temple. Amazing.
Anyway, I wrote all about it here. Enjoy!
As unlikely as it sounds, absurdist theatre is coming to Phnom Penh, with a series of four short plays exploring the darker side of human nature and what pushes us to violence. In French AND English, no less. I am very excited about this. So much so that I interviewed the two directors about the upcoming show. If you’re in town and intrigued, read what they had to say about it here >>
At first I was afraid, I was petrified
I hit you with my shoe- how are you still alive?
But now it’s so much worse
You could be lurking in my purse
You little creep – now I can’t sleep!
Under the bed?
Inside the drawer?
Or have you gone back through that gap under the bathroom door?
No, I heard your nasty tick
The noise that really makes me sick
If I turn the light back on will you be scuttling on the floor?
Go on now go! Back down the drain!
Or – I don’t know – wherever that it was from whence you came
Weren’t you the one that I sprayed with all that DEET?
Why aren’t you dead? And will I ever get to sleep?
Oh no not I!
Where did you hide?
As long as I’m left wondering, I cannot close my eyes
There’s a lot of night ahead
Please don’t get into my bed…
Where did you hide?
WHERE DID YOU HIDE?
… Ah, the joys of life in Cambodia
Anyone who lives in or has been to Cambodia knows how fresh the wounds inflicted by the Khmer Rouge still feel today. Unresolved trauma from the civil war and genocide permeates the work of most artists who were old enough to have experienced it first hand (as well as many who weren’t).
In her newest work, the incredible choreographer Sophiline Cheam Shapiro has taken a completely fresh and unique approach to navigating this trauma and grief, blending traditional dance, theatre and a classic folk tale to explore ideas about revenge and cycles of violence. I was lucky enough to interview her yesterday and to catch the performance at Chaktomuk Theatre… my boyfriend and I were both in tears. It’s just beautiful.
If you’re interested in learning more about the show, Sophiline, and the amazing work she does training the next generation of Khmer classical dancers, have a read of the interview and review here – and if you’re in Phnom Penh over the next few days, make sure you buy a ticket fast, because they WILL sell out!