Lakhon Khol theatre to feature at large ‘Heritage Day’ cultural event

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A hundred and 11 Lakhon Khol lacquer masks will be on display at the ‘Heritage Day’ event on June 19. Hong Menea

A group of young volunteers is set to hold the Lakhon Khol Lacquer Mask programme as part of the “Heritage Day” large-scale cultural event on June 19, 2022 at The Factory Phnom Penh at Urban Village.

The Funan Arts School is holding the special cultural event, which will include a range of traditional art programmes, including the exhibition of 111 Lakhon Khol lacquer masks, as well as costumes and other accoutrements.

Sup Sakara, the head of the team that organises the event, said the Funan Arts School holds the “Heritage Day” traditional arts event every year, exhibiting a variety of ancient art forms in celebration of Khmer heritage.

These include Lakhon Khol and Sbek Thom theatre, classical dance and the chapei dong veng stringed musical instrument, which have been placed on the UNESCO intangible heritage of humanity list.

Sakara said the programme aims to help Cambodian families and young people learn about each ancient art form to instil an appreciation of the Kingdom’s cultural wealth and the important civilisation behind it, ensuring the preservation and protection of the traditional arts.

The exhibition of the Lakhon Khol lacquer masks and costumes is to help raise funds for a large show later this year, he added.

“The Lakhon Khol Lacquer Mask programme is to feature twice, with a workshop on Lakhon Khol theatre and ancient dance running from 8am to 12am. Professor Preung Chheang will perform a show, while guests of honour will dress in Lakhon Khol costumes and practise the traditional dance.

“There will be a concert featuring music from Cambodia’s ‘Golden Age’ of the 1960s performed by the Music Arts School from 2pm to 7pm, with an exhibition of the 111 Lakhon Khol lacquer masks and costumes.

“There will also be a display of the traditional Bokator martial art from the Kun Chey Techo School of Ith Kanika, also known as Pich Choranai, while there will also be chapei dong veng and Lakhon Khol theatre performances. Some 100 practitioners of ancient and modern arts will be attending this event,” Sakara said.

Back in 2020, some 200 young performers were gearing up to perform the largest ever Lakhon Khol show in history under the slogan “The Thousand Riel Fund for the Great Show 2020”, until the outbreak of Covid-19 saw its postponement.

Rescheduled to be held in on March 2021, it was postponed again, with Sakara saying it the remains still to be performed.

“Our project was set to be held in late March of 2021, but we had postpone it because of the February 20 community event, and we have yet to fix a new date.

“However, we continue to rehearse and practise, and remain ready to perform the show for when we can fix a date,” he said.

Singers and actors including Di Vanda, John Sak, Hay Po Hong, Nou Usaphea, Ros Reachsal, Chantha Dara, Un Sothea, Thean, Sorn Piseth, Nentum, Darath, Serey Vong and Reachbot On were all set to perform at the original Lakhon Khol theatre show on June 7, 2020.

As were Neak Meas, Peng Puthisak, Yuth Nissay, Kodomo, Soy Rattanak, Pong Puthisak and Thai San.

The special lacquer mask programme at the “Heritage Day” large-scale cultural event is intended to celebrate the rich culture of Cambodia, as well as present the various forms of Lakhon Khol theatre.

The programme is organised by the Funan Arts School, and co-organised by Creal Cambodia, the Music Arts School and Chey Techa Bokator School, with the Factory Phnom Penh and Urban Village in the capital’s Chak Angre Leu commune in Meanchey district providing the location.