vrijdag 6 februari 2009

The Dutch team is complete

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Friday 6 February
After my arrival in Phnom Penh - already, or is it only two days ago - the Dutch team is complete. 
It was a delight to meet the Amrita team and see the actresses again.
Reading the blog in Holland I got the idea I might describe the origin of this production Breaking the Silence - for those who didn't follow us from the start. 

For Annemarie this is her second Cambodian show. The first one, called after the duration of the Pol Pot regime 3 years, 8 months and 20 days premiered in February 2006 in Phnom Penh, was presented during the Singapore Arts festival next summer. And was invited both by Holland Festival in Amsterdam and Under the Radar Festival in New York - but for diverse unfortunate reasons both visits fell through.

3 years... was based on the childhood memories of three actresses Annemarie met as participants of  a workshop she gave for the teachers at the theatre performance department in Phnom Penh. All three of them, Sokly, Theary and Sina will performing in Breaking the Silence, while the fourth, Sovanna participated in the workshop as well.
As said, 3 years dealt with the overwelming trauma of this country, the genocide taking place during the reign of Khmer Rouge, Pol Pots revolutionary army. Annemarie molded the actresses stories into a poetic and moving testimony of three of the milion similar family histories in Cambodia.
During the making, Annemarie found out that talking about this black page in national history was not common.

She met Youk Cchang, director of the DC-CAM, the Documentation Centre that identified the killing fields, collects oral testimonies, disseminate historical knowledge and does stimulate the tribunal as a way to restore a basic trust in international law. After this meeting she was convinced she had to make another play. A performance that should tour the countryside of Cambodia and could function as a trigger for debate and - if not too ambitious - could be a small tool in the process of reconciliation and opening up for the future.

In january 2008, I assisted Annemarie on a research and preparatory trip through the country. DC-Cam had identified dozens of people in the countryside - both perpetrators and victims of all ages - who could be interviewed by us. 
Amrita organized our tour and Rith and Sina accompanied us as both interpreter and matchmaker. During that trip we taped 12 hours of interviews, but we also met the four actresses and spent some days with them in DC-Cam watching movies, reading testimonies etc. 
And we had a decisive meeting with Youk Cchang again, who promised us DC-Cam's outreach volunteers could take care of a contextual program in the villages we would perform. And last but not least: we did choose the team, except for the singer and the dancer.

So here we are now. One year later. 
After we'd been reading many more books, watching more movies and documentaries and talking a lot, Annemarie started to write the script in November, which was ready on arrival. 
And - to prove the importance of a research trip no fund is ever willing to pay for...- was acclaimed by all people involved in the play - as well as by Youk Cchang.

End of the day.
Friendly greetings Nan.

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