September 2015 | EVENT
The critically acclaimed production ‘Khmer Metal’, a circus show produced and performed by Cambodian artists, is coming to America for the first time ever! 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. The young circus artists will astonish you with their energy, emotion, enthusiasm and talent.
Q: What was the inspiration behind the event?
Phare artists are graduates of the Phare Ponleu Selpak Circus School in Battambang, Cambodia. The school was founded in 1994 by nine young men returning home from a refugee camp after the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime. They had taken art therapy courses at the camp and wanted to share the power of art to heal among the poor, socially deprived and troubled youth in Battambang. They started with drawing classes taught to a handful of students. Soon they opened a public school, then a music school, theatre school and circus school. Today more than 1,200 pupils attend the public school daily and 500 attend the vocational arts training programs. In 2013, the school created Phare, The Cambodian Circus as a social enterprise based in Siem Reap, Cambodia, home to Angkor Wat and one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in the world. The mission was to create job opportunities for graduates of the circus school and give back almost 75% of its profits to support the school’s programming. Phare, The Cambodia Circus performs nightly under a big top in Siem Reap and has been seen by tens of thousands of people. Their productions have also toured extensively across France.
Q: Tell us in one sentence why attendees love the event.
It is an opportunity for American audiences to see something completely different, a truly spectacular, rousing, energizing, and sometimes surprising performance by a group of highly trained, talented artists.
Q: What’s the best thing about holding the event in Oakland?
Oakland residents are diverse in perspective and there is a rich culture for the performing arts. As an Oakland resident for the past 6 years, I have supported many local events that showcase the many faces of our residents and the stories that they have to share. This is the first time the circus artists of Phare are performing in the United States and I know Oakland residents will LOVE the show as I did seeing them twice in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Q: Does your event partner with local businesses in Oakland?
Yes – we are partnering with Battambang Restaurant in Oakland to promote their authentic Cambodian Cuisine and Battambang happens to be the province where the Phare Ponleu Selpak School and artists come from.
Q: What’s the one thing Oakland offers that makes it the best place for your event?
Oakland offers accessible transportation for visitors from all over the Bay area, it is a central location for residents of San Francisco, East Bay and the South Bay.
Q: What is the one thing you want everyone to know about this event?
This event is historic as this will be the first time for a Cambodian circus group to perform in the Bay Area. Phare Ponleu Selpak is a school that provides education, performing arts training and hope to young children who live in extreme poverty.