The Return of “Khmer Metal”

Posted on Feb 12, 2018


Triumphant return of “Khmer Metal”

 

On February 8, 2018, Phare, The Cambodian Circus commemorated it’s 5th anniversary in Siem Reap. The occasion was highlighted by the triumphant return of “Khmer Metal“. It was the show’s first time in Siem Reap since it’s widely acclaimed US debut at the Ringling International Arts Festival in October of 2015.

The artists of “Khmer Metal” believe that many visitors already know about Khmer Rouge, Angkor Wat or poverty in Cambodia. However, few visitors know about the challenges that modern, urban Cambodian young adults face. “Khmer Metal” represents their experiences where young adults often go: a Phnom Penh rock bar. Bar owner and staff try to make a living, sometimes in devious ways. Patrons want to see and be seen. A young couple both keeping an eye out for other possible romantic targets, regardless of same or opposite gender. Musicians rocking the stage, hoping to get paid. Khmer Metal is edgy, provocative, unconventional and a whole lot of fun. It’s also very real in the Cambodian experience.

There have been a few changes since it’s last appearance in Siem Reap. There are a few new faces, some new techniques and some new original music. We took the opportunity to chat with the artists while they were working at Phare Ponleu Selpak in Battambang on the new version. Here’s what they shared about their feelings of the show.


Brendy Nem (co-creator of the show):

Khmer Metal - Phare, The Cambodian Circus

Photo by Peter Phoeng

Could you tell us more about the story?

Khmer Metal talks about reality in current Cambodian society. The setting is a night club. The characters experience various real-life situations: friendship, love, LGBTQ, theft… under the power of modern rock and roll music.

Where did the idea come from?

The ideas came from all Khmer Metal team members, drawn from their own experiences.

How do you feel about the revival of the show?

It’s so exciting and interesting to have Khmer Metal on stage again! It means that we didn’t forget it! The original artists were busy with other personal and professional projects or just daily life. With the support of original and new artists, Khmer Metal can be performed again, and that’s great.

What does the show mean to you?

It means so much to me because Khmer Metal represents genuine Cambodian performance arts sharing our modern cultural identity with global audiences. “Metal” can mean a kind of rock-and-roll, but also refers to strength and quality. The show is about self-confidence and responsibility.

What do you hope audience will get from it?

It makes the audiences aware of what really happens in a modern-day night club: good and bad situations. It’s meaningful and encourages people not to judge a book by its cover.


The 6 original artists

Khmer Metal - Phare, The Cambodian Circus

Photo by Caroline Hosey

How do you feel about the revival of the show?

Samnang Heng (circus artist):
I feel excited about the revival of Khmer Metal! It will be a little bit different than 2 years ago, but it is still a very good show, and I’m sure the audience will love it!

Sothea Nem (circus artist):
The revival of Khmer Metal is a great news. I am very happy to participate in this show again after a 2-year pause.

Chandann Chhuon (circus artist):
I’m very happy because I really like performing in this show. I really thought that the show wouldn’t be performed anymore! What a great surprise.

Samol Pon (circus artist):
It is a very good surprise!

Vanthan Ly (musician and composer):
It’s a great opportunity for our new artists because they can experience new techniques from this show. I can learn from them, too.

Srey Touch (musician and singer):
I’m happy there are new artists included in the show!

What does the show mean to you?

Srey Touch:
It talks about our country today, and encourages people to be more careful when they visit night clubs. It also pushes us to be good and keep the environment clean for both national and international people.

Samnang Heng:
It means that we cannot easily trust people. We must be more careful and attentive wherever we are.

Sothea Nem and Vanthan Ly:
We can improve some new circus techniques and add two songs to the original music! Great.

Chandann Chhuon:
I’ll improve my skills and be better than before!

Samol Pon:
It’s interesting because I can see that during the past two years, I’ve improved my techniques!

What do you hope the audience will get from it?

Samnang Heng:
They will understand more about modern-day Cambodia and culture. They will be careful wherever they go. Our people will change their bad habits and keep our country safe.

Srey Touch:
They will love the environment, Khmer arts and circus.

Sothea Nem:
They’ll know there are not only happy things in a bar, but sad and dangerous things too.

Chandann Chhuon:
I hope they’ll enjoy all our different circus techniques!

Samol Pon:
They’ll enjoy the values and the fact that this show is very meaningful to us as Cambodian artists and young adults!

Vanthan Ly:
They’ll be glad to understand a little more about modern Cambodian society, and enjoy our stories about love and friendship.


The 4 new artists

Khmer Metal - Phare, The Cambodian Circus

Photo by Caroline Hosey

How do you feel about participating in the revival of Khmer Metal?

Kanha Choub (circus artist and singer):
It’s so cool to be a part of Khmer Metal. I am happy to have this opportunity to perform with the original artists.

Khong Chanpov Chhuon (circus artist):
I’m so excited to be part of the cast now, because I used to be part of the audience only when it was performed 2 years ago.

Lydon Khun (circus artist):
I can learn new techniques and emotions, and do things I’ve never done before.

Borith Teng (musician):
I can learn new things from the original artists !

What does the show mean to you?

Borith Teng:
I learn a lot from Khmer Metal: concentration, using my emotions…

Kanha Choub:
I become more creative and patient, thanks to being part of this show!

Khong Chanpov Chhuon:
It makes me feel confident.

What do you hope the audience will get from it?

Khong Chanpov Chhuon:
I hope they’ll like it because it is funny and shares about real Cambodian modern society.

Kanha Choub:
Maybe they will be more careful when they go to night clubs in Cambodia…

Borith Teng:
I hope they’ll like it and spread the word to their friends!

What are your feelings about the rehearsals?

Kanha Choub:
I try my best! I also perform in “Eclipse” and “Same Same but Different” now. I was in “Sokha” before. It’s exciting to be part of another show!

Khong Chanpov Chhuon:
It’s hard because I am new and I have to learn new techniques and movements. It takes a lot of patience

Lydon Khun:
I gain more experience and learn how to deal with my emotions!

Borith Teng:
I feel more confident compared to my other performances.

What do you think that show will bring to you professionally and personally?

Kanha Choub:
It even changes my behavior and attitude. I become skillful and responsible, even if my character is very sexy!

Lydon Khun:
It will make me more patient and I’ll learn a lot.

Borith Teng:
I used to be good at remembering scripts but Khmer Metal is a complex show with many different scenes!


Find out more about “Khmer Metal”: