On a very fine day of May 2019, I was standing starstruk in front of The Paramount Theater in Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America. This is Phare’s Third USA Tours after “Khmer Metal” in 2015 and “Khmer Village in 2016”. The Paramount Theater stands tall and proud in the middle of the city center. Images of the now long-lost iconic arts venues in my native Cambodia in the golden years of the 50s and 60s came flashing in my vision. My wishful thinking was that we would bring them back to their glory. I stared at the entrance of this magnificent theater for a good 5 minutes.
A big poster in front of the theater reads:
The World on stage
IRELAND FRANCE CAMBODIA
UK POLAND USA RUSSIA
I smiled from ear to ear to see my beloved, once one of the oldest civilizations, now-a small, war-torn, traumatized yet culturally rich nation, was standing equally on the same stage with some of the world’s most advanced nations. This is all thanks to our ancestors for leaving us with heritages, Identity and traditions of Cambodian arts and culture.
Thanks to our artists, cultural ambassadors and countless local and international partners, we are helping shape the image of our country to the outside world in a positive light.
This thought brought me to an encounter I had with a Canadian researcher that I recently met thanks to the introduction by our good friend and partner, Cambodian Living Arts. When being posed with a question: “What Cirque du Soleil means to you and other Canadians?” His eyes sparkled, he answered with a smile that: “Cirque du Soleil is our Celine Dion. They are both our Canadian pride.” Hist enthusiastic response transferred the energy to me and made me returned to him with a big smile. In the back of my head I was saying to myself: “I know that Cambodian culture and Phare artists are also my Cambodian pride, the same way he felt about Cirque du Soleil. I know that this is our competitive advantage to help us be relevant and present in global conversations.”
I then set myself on a mission to document a year in review of 2019 of Phare’s international tours to look at what Phare artists did that touched lives and hearts of hundreds of people in Cambodia and around the world. I wanted to look at where and how our cultural ambassadors are making people see us as an energetic, dynamic, youthful, peaceful and hopeful people of a nation that are reviving and revitalizing our rich cultural heritages.
In addition to more than 400 performances per year in Siem Reap’s Phare Circus iconic red bigtop and students’ performances in the school campus of Phare Ponleu Selpak in Battambang city, our artists also performed for Cambodians and audiences from around the world in private events in temples, in 5 stars hotels and at some of the most beautiful settings including, Song Saa Private Island, Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra, Phum Baitang Resort, Amansara Resort and Park Hyatt, just to name a few.
Where did Phare artists bring smiles to people’s faces this year?
We started the year with a Bang! Our newest production “White Gold” had her European Premiere with Biennale des Arts de Cirque in Marseillesin February, before continuing to FOR SUR MER – THEATRE DE FOS. We finished off the tours with TRITH SAINT LEGER. https://pharecircus.org/phare-circus-goes-to-france/
May was a busy touring month, “Sokha” went to Ansan Street Arts Festival and continued on to ASEAN Culture House in Busan and Suwon Theater Festival in The Republic of Korea.
Meanwhile “See You Yesterday” had her USA Premiere Tours in ArtsEmersons in Boston thanks to Global Arts Corps.
We are in May still, a shorter version of “Eclipse” & “Same Same But Different” performed at the Flipside festival at the Esplanade Theaters by the bay in Singapore.
It was a treat for our Aussie friends, “Eclipse” was presented in Darwin Arts Festival in Australia in August.
Our friends in Korea loved “Sokha” so much that they have invited again the performance to Gwangju Fringe Festival in October of this year.
With the success in Marseilles, “White Gold” is set to tours French National Theaters for nearly 2 months in many cities in winter next year. Watch out this space for announcements of cities and tour dates.
It has been a year full of memories and contributions by artists and partners who help make Siem Reap a destination visitors must stay longer to explore food, arts, culture, authentic experiences with our “Come for Angkor Wat but #StayLongerFor……” campaign.
Are you planning for a perfect holiday?
Come for UNESCO World Heritage for Humanity, Angkor Wat, Stay longer for Food, arts, culture and authentic Cambodian experiences.
Thanks for helping Phare inspire with amazing vibe and energy and transforming the lives of Cambodian Youth.
I do not know Switzerland enough but I have been fortunute to have visited the country nearly 10 times to see my sister and her family and build some maazing friendship there. These are what make me love this country and the people:
១-) បឹងបួរដ៏ធំៗជាច្រើន The lakes. The big beautiful lakes.
២-) ផ្ទះម៉ូតបូរាណ The houses in traditional achetechtures
៣-) ភ្នំដ៏ធំៗនិងស្អាត the mountains
៤-) ប្រជាធិប្បតេយ្យដោយផ្ទាល់ Direct Democracy
៥-) ប្រព័ន្ធហ្វឹកហាត់ការងារដ៏មានប្រសិទ្ធិភាពសម្រាប់យុវជន យុវនារីនៅវិទ្យាល័យ The Swiss Vocational and Professional Educatiobn & Training sysm
៦-)ជីវិតមនុស្សមានតម្លៃ the sanctity of human lives
Who are we? We are the sum of our experiences. If not, who are we, what are we really?
Shirley Schmidt: A sexual assault is traumatic. Carol Cabot: I realize that; of course, I do. Shirley Schmidt: Well, if you can lessen your daughter’s pain, why wouldn’t you? Carol Cabot: It works on the brain. For God sakes, the idea that you just take a pill every time something bad happens . . . Shirley Schmidt: That’s bad? Carol Cabot: It’s called life, and you can’t just erase the bad parts. Shirley Schmidt: Why not? Carol Cabot: Our best artists are informed by their pain. Our greatest heroes are born out of adversity. Certainly, if the trauma affects your life, treat it, either behaviorally or with medication. But some miracle amnesia pill, so you have no memory of bad things—what kind of brave new world are we entering into?
Warning: This is satirical comedy at its best in my opinion.
This case is about what makes us who we are. There are lots of answers, but certainly one possible answer is: We are the sum of our experiences, not just the good, not just the bad, but all of them. If we can take a pill and forget parts of our personal histories—who are we, then? When Arthur Hallam died, his best friend was shocked, grief-stricken, utterly inconsolable. But that best friend was the great English poet, Tennyson, who went on to write, “In Memoriam.” He immortalized his friend in verse and gave us one of the greatest poems in the English language. Imagine if Tennyson could have just taken a pill and forgotten about the whole thing.