dinsdag 24 februari 2009

Cambodia is not like at home...

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Tuesday February 24
The second performance was even better than the opening night, and we can't find the black hole to dive in. 
Day after the second night Annemarie and Richt started to work on an adaptation of the script. 
Youk Chhang has come with the idea to make a radio play out of Breaking the Silence: the most easy and economical way to reach literally everyone. Nice idea, but we realize time is running out: Annemarie and Richt have already postponed their flight back till March 5, but even then....There will be only three days left after finishing the first part of our tour. So finally we had to decide Annemarie will record the radio play during the second part of the tour in November.

Around my desk in Amrita's office half of the technical crew is gathering to leave for Kampong Cham province: this morning we took the stage down in Phnom Penh, it has arrived in Roka Ko Pram already and it is at this very moment under construction. Technical director Bunsim just called to the office that the local stagehands we've asked for turn out to be in their 40's. Amrita's Program coordinator Sal has told Bunsim he has to cross this cultural border and start giving orders to people older than himself.

For Amrita this tour will be an adventure as it is for us: touring the provinces is something totally new for the staff. Fred has some experience, from the time he was still working as a UN volunteer, but he will leave tomorrow for a trip along three meetings in three countries. Tonight we will have our goodbye dinner.
Which brings me to tell a bit more about Fred Frumberg and the great organization called Amrita.

Fred came to Cambodia in 1997. 
After being Peter Sellars director's assistant for many years and the head of the production unit of the Paris Opera he decided to do give his life in art a new direction. As a UN-volunteer he got the commission to revive Cambodian traditional performing arts forms. Before, Pol Pot killed almost all the artists and masters, Cambodia had 20 forms of dance, theatre and music, part of which have been reconstructed by the few people who survived. 
After his contract with UN ended, Fred decided to stay in Cambodia and founded Amrita, with an all Cambodian staff. Amrita has since then been the beating heart of the - still very scarce - performing arts life in Phnom Penh: supporting the performing arts education, producing shows, connecting artists internationally and stimulating collaborations, workshops etc etc.
Outcome: lost techniques are restored, young people are given acces to arts education, mixed forms of contemporary and traditional are being developed and introduced to the audience. And Fred made the best artists from diverse (most Asian) countries and cultures work together and invent new contemporary performing art's languages...
Doing so Amrita is training a new generation of arts managers - Fred finds them an entrance to universities abroad, to travel bursaries, to trainee jobs.
Amrita now is at the threshold of a new future. 
The heritage-task is being taken over by other organizations and should be responsibility of the Ministry of Culture from now on. The focus will be on contemporary. 
And we are lucky: Fred loves to do Annemarie's plays.

Tomorrow at 8 o'clock we will travel to Roka Pram where the people are waiting for us. We won't be online till Friday.

Friendly greetings Nan.

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