Issue AreaArts & Culture
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Lakhon Komnit – meaning “Thinking Theatre” -creates opportunities for Cambodian people to participate in Lakhon Niyeay (Cambodian Spoken Theatre).
A thriving artform until its destruction by the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime of 1975-1979, Lakhon Niyeay is now almost completely unknown.
The artists who first decided to set up Lakhon Komnit were former students of Lakhon Niyeay, who found a lack of opportunities to continue working in the artform after we graduated in 2016.
We had all grown up in poverty and had personally transformative experiences of participation in theatre, from developing self-confidence to learning the complex political recent history of our own country. Making performances about domestic violence, drug abuse and unsafe migration gave us critical insight into social issues we had already experienced first hand. We were captivated by the craft of creating on-stage stories and worlds. We wanted to share the benefits of theatrical participation with the wider community, and decided to form Lakhon Komnit.
Today, we do workshops, projects and pop-up performances in surprising places, from remote villages and school playgrounds to addiction rehabilitation centres, backstreets, busy street corners and pagodas.
We use Lakhon Niyeay as a tool to address challenging issues in a culture where direct discussion is taboo. Performers and audiences, individuals and communities have a chance to take a step back and reflect on situations which seem impossible to change when we are too close to them. Opportunities for choice are revealed and participants are motivated and empowered to change their own lives.
Lakhon Niyeay fosters critical thinking and connection, improving the lives of Cambodian communities. Lakhon Komnit are dedicated to theatrical regeneration and development, so that Cambodian people know, benefit from and value this powerful artform.
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