Siam Reap, Cambodia was a breath of fresh air compared to Phnom Penh, literally and figuratively. I ventured off on a solo trip for a few days to get out of the intensity of the city see the famous Angkor Wat temples. While the temples at Angkor Wat were certainly impressive, it was the Phare: Cambodian Circus that captured my heart!
It's like Cirque du Soleil, but with Cambodian performers who studied at a local non-profit school for the performing arts. The NGO was started by 9 Cambodian men after the Khmer Rouge to help support local artists. Check out the website
The Phare Story is "Uniquely Cambodian. Daringly Modern. More than just a circus, Phare, the Cambodian Circus performers use theater, music, dance and modern circus arts to tell uniquely Cambodian stories; historical, folk and modern."
Phare was recommended by fellow Remote Translator.Liz who had visited earlier in the month. I went with a German friend (Carolin) who I met on the bus from Phnom Penh to Siam Reap. The only seats left were general admission and we were in the far back corner. But, it was a tiny tent venue and it didn’t matter. The performance was so powerful, there were no bad seats in the house!
Just like Cirque, the show featured music, dance, juggling, acrobatics and humor, all sprinkled on top of an overarching story of an outcast in a village who yearns for acceptance. It was brilliant.
The energy in the show is top notch! These performers had us eating out of the palm of their hands. Every audience member seemed entranced from start to finish. I found myself giggling and smiling so much my jaw hurt at the end.
I got emotional at one point during the show. My mind wandered back to the Fuerza Bruta show back in Buenos Aires, which was same same but different. BA was month 2 of Remote Year, and there I was in month 11. The whole year flashed before my eyes and the realization that the year is coming to an end brought a range of mixed emotions up to the surface.
I think the reason I loved the Phare Cambodian Circus so much was because Cambodia was a hard place to live mentally and spiritually. Phnom Penh is overpopulated. The streets are littered with trash. Poverty is ever-present. The dark history of the Killing Fields looms in the back of your mind. As a caucasian foreigner, everyone thinks your rich and merchants can be rather aggressive. It is probably the most challenging place I’ve lived this year.
For me, Phare represents hope! And Cambodians need hope. Feeling the positive vibes, the warmth of the circus and seeing the smiles of the performers was exactly what I needed. It was electrifying!
Hope is not a dangerous thing, Red.
"Remember, Red, Hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies."