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By Emily Martin

Meet the Stars: Samm Saroeurtha (Srey Mao)

Saroeurtha, also known as “Srey Mao”,  is just 20 years old, from Battambang and performing as part of the ‘Chills’ troupe at Phare. She plays the strong, female leader of the group of students.

“I feel happy to be performing as part of the circus. I love doing the tricks when we perform and to be able to show the audience and we can see them happy, and sometimes be scared with us as well.”

What was your life like before the circus?
My life was normal I guess. I lived in a small village with my family who are very poor and I knew nothing about other villages or the outside world. I only knew the people in my village. After joining the school I can go to other places and other villages and meet many new people. It makes me feel different and has changed my feelings. Before I only knew a few people and now I know many people and many new things… it’s changed my perspective.

Also before the circus I felt that I was very weak – but now I am much stronger.

How did you find out about Phare?
My father actually told me about the circus and I joined when I was 12.

Was it hard to leave home at such a young age?
Yes it was very hard. The first day I left to stay in this new and different place it made me feel very strange and I couldn’t sleep at all at night. I missed my family so much but now it is alright. I am away from them when I come to perform in Siem Reap but I live with them in Battambang.

Why is the circus good for you?
In my village where my parents live there are many poor people. In the village where the circus school is we can train and go to the circus to earn money to support our families. We also have big opportunities to travel. Our parents are happy if we do that. We can earn money and help support the family.

What do you love most about the job?
I love the acrobatics the most!

What do you do in your down time?
I like listening to music and learning about the French language.

What do you want to do in the future?
I would love to be a tour guide or a teacher for the French language.

If you were an animal what would you like to be and why?
A turtle because if that animal wants to scare someone he can come out of his shell but if he doesn’t then he can go into it.

Who inspires you?
Because of the economic condition my family is in, they are very poor, they inspire me to work hard and do something that can earn money in order to support them.

A long time ago my mother was very sick and she almost died. I thought that the only thing to help my mother would be to earn money to help her live … that’s why she inspires me to do something with my life.
She is better now … though not as strong as before.

Embarrassing moment on stage?
On the stage we move very quickly and one night in a part where I run I slid on some water… and fell over in front of everyone!

Saroeurtha will be performing with “Chills” in Siem Reap November 16-22 and again December 1-6, and regularly through this winter. Check our Schedule & Rates page to see when she’ll next be in the Siem Reap Big Top.


“Chills” will be on tour in France next summer. Read more about Phare on Tour.

Read interviews with two of Srey Mao’s co-stars: UNG Kakada and his brother UNG Rattanak.

Buy Tickets online.