The Sovanna Phum theater on Street 360, home to traditional Khmer dance, plays and shadow puppet shows, can now take its show on the road thanks to an $8,200 donation from the British Embassy.
Sovanna Phum used the money to buy a truck, the bed of which folds out to create a stage.
“This is really great for us,” said Delphine Kassem, the theater‘s 30-year-old founder.
“For eight years we have been working to make shows, but we have never had a stage. We had to do them on the ground. It was difficult,” Kassem said.
Since getting the truck the theater has taken two tours in the provinces where it has performed 10 plays and puppet shows at village schools and pagodas.
The performances, which are put on by the theater’s regular troupe of artists, actors, musicians and dancers, are targeted to children and adults. “We cover lots of subjects in collaboration with local NGOs,” Kassem said. “Whatever they want us to talk about. We have worked out plays about AIDS, mosquito control and breast-feeding.”
The Sovanna Phum theater is undergoing renovations, having just built a new stage and office building.
Thanks to the truck, the troupe did not miss a single one of its regular Friday night performances during the construction.
Mann Kosal, a former dancer, is the director of Sovanna Phum, which means land or village of gold in Khmer.
“All the performers are Khmer,” Mann Kosal said. “I want to help performers to make Khmer art and love their culture. I want other Khmers to know and learn about their culture.”
The $4 admission fee to Sovanna Phum is waived for Khmer patrons who can’t afford it.