Saturday, December 12, 2015

Puppet Show Links French Modernism With Cambodian Tradition

By: Olivia Harlow
Produced & Edited by: The Cambodia Daily
Handmade leather and paper puppets, 2 meters tall, crinkle their way across the stage, dancing in sync with the music to tell the tale of a boy with only one eye who cannot hear, and his twin sister, who has one ear but cannot see.
This will be the scene on stage at the Institut Francais in Phnom Penh on Saturday night, when French theater group Compagnie l’Aurore and Phnom Penh’s Kok Thlok artists’ association present the fruits of their first collaboration, a show that gives traditional Khmer shadow puppetry a modern French twist.

The production—“Un Oeil, Une Oreille” (“An Eye, An Ear”)—which premiered last week in Battambang City, is a story of separation and reunification, the story of two children, one of whom experiences the world only through sight, the other only through sound.
“It’s a mythology story about two children separated when they’re born and then trying to join all their life,” explained performance director Francois Dubois of Compagnie l’Aurore, which is based in the southern French town of La Reole. “At the end, they will succeed, but they will be different persons.”
Mr. Dubois’s production uses the contrast between the “ear” and the “eye” to meld auditory and visual elements, as well as an interplay between French and Cambodian influences. Taken as a whole, the show is a bid to modernize one of Cambodia’s oldest art forms, one that is struggling to find a foothold in a world of television soap operas and Facebook.
Sbek thom—a traditional form of Khmer puppetry dating back to the Angkorian era and recognized on Unesco’s list of intangible cultural heritage—uses flat, intricately carved leather figures to tell stories of ancient deities from behind illuminated white screens.
After first witnessing the Kok Thlok artists practice sbek thom in Phnom Penh four years ago, Mr. Dubois was inspired to play with the art form and integrate it into his own work.
To see the rest of the story, see:

No comments: