By: Emily Martin
Phare on Tour – why do we go?
Next month Eclipse is going to be on tour in France sponsored by Le Collectif clowns d’ailleurs et d’ici. For three months the artists who perform in this show will travel around the country performing at festivals, in the street and leading training and circus skills workshops.
It’s part of the artists’ educational curriculum and it’s an opportunity for their directors to see if they have developed enough to be considered ‘professional’ artists.
Jean Noel, the manager of the circus school at Phare Ponleu Selpak says, “They are working in very professional conditions, real artist conditions. It shows whether they are really able to manage their lives properly in terms of relationships with the other members of the group, the clients and the audience. We can tell them if we think they are up to the requirements of being a circus artist, and not just a circus artist in Cambodia but around the world.”
When the artists are working in France, they are often performing in festivals, alongside 20 other circus troupes from all over the world. “You are no longer being compared to yourself like in Cambodia, but to other troupes.”
“Cambodians do not have such critical minds – when they look at other shows they don’t try understand why it’s a good show, why the audience likes it a lot. We’re trying to broaden their minds and teach them to compare themselves to others.”
The overseas trips are a great opportunity for the students to develop their skills. They will meet students from the National Circus School in France and have the opportunity to work with them. “ They will compare their school to the other school, their work to the others work and sometimes they will see that they are better at this and not as good at this… it’s a way for them to confront themselves.”
Building relationships and being exposed to another culture is also a big thing for the students. They will stay with families as much as possible during the trip and also lead workshops for students from other circus schools or social centres. “These people they meet will most likely come to Cambodia at some point and meet the students again… it’s like a link programme between people.”
“It’s important to travel and build your professional skills as you are not just a Cambodian artist. You are Cambodian because of your passport, an artist is an artist. An artist can play with Cirque du Soleil… art is opened minded.”