Gov’t Proposes Modifications for Rock Opera

The government will not ban the rock opera “Where Elephants Weep” and supports the show’s production team, but proposes that scenes or dialogue be modified to appease the monks who complained the musical was disrespectful to Buddhists, Council of Min­isters spokesman Phay Siphan said Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Cabinet Minister Sok An presided over a meeting of of­ficials from the ministries of Culture, Tourism, Informa­tion, and Cults and Religion, as well as the Royal Academy of Cambodia.

“That meeting is in favor of the performers of that story,” and choosing what to modify or re­phrase will be up to the artists themselves, Phay Siphan said.

“The government has no intention or plan to cut parts of that show, but to make everyone happy,” he said, adding that the resolution from the meeting will be submitted to Prime Minister Hun Sen for ap­proval, and that the opera would be performed again soon in Siem Reap.

“Where Elephants Weep,” Cam­bodia’s first rock opera, shows monks dancing and singing, and a monk disrobe to be with the wo­man he loves.

The Supreme Sangha Council—a body of the chief Buddhist clerics of the dominant Mohanikaya sect—complained to the government that the play was offensive to Buddhists and asked that it be banned from TV and theaters.

The opera’s composer Him Sophy said the show’s team is willing to compromise and that part of the English-to-Khmer translation had been inaccurate and could be modified.

“I hope it’s not too much [modified],” he added.

The production team is now pre­paring for a meeting with Budd­hist leaders scheduled for Sunday to ex­plain the opera’s meaning and add­ress their concerns, Him Sophy added. But modifications to dialogue and dress might not be enough to satisfy the monks.

“[If] they want to replay this story, why don’t they choose to wear tiger-print clothes or white clothes like old laypeople,” said Supreme Pat­riarch Non Nget.

Monks may only be represented as moral and educated, and recent bad behavior by a minority of monks should not overshadow 50,000 well-behaving monks, Venerable Sao Chanthol, high adviser to the council, said.

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